Politics Sen. Grassley opts for business stop instead of town hall

Sen. Grassley at Quad/Graphics
photo by Tammy Pearson/Adair County Free Press
Iowa Rep. Clel Baudler, Renee Schwartz of Quad/Graphics, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Tim Foster, manager, Quad Graphics pause for a photo after Sen. Grassley toured the plant and answered questions from employees of Quad/Graphics and local business people.

Rather than holding a town hall meeting in Adair County, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley met with about 10 local business people and the employees of the Quad/Graphics plant in Greenfield Aug. 11 at the plant.

Sen. Grassley explained why he was holding the meeting at a business instead of hosting a town hall meeting. He said it gave him an opportunity to meet with “a different demographic” that what usually attend town hall meetings. He said those are usually attended primarily by retired people. He said he is also holding meetings at schools and meetings where small business owners “congregate,” such as Rotary or Kiwanis meetings.

After a tour of the plant, Sen. Grassley fielded questions.

When asked about filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Grassley said “the next president will decide the direction of the court for maybe the next 40 years,” going on to say that the four justices deemed to be liberal, are “stretching the law” while the four conservative justices are adhering to the Constitution.

A couple of questions were posed about mental health care.

Sen. Grassley defended Gov. Terry Branstad’s closing of mental health facilities that were in “old buildings,” but agreed more mental health beds are needed. However, he said that even if there were more beds, the problem is with the lack of mental health professionals, a problem he said began years ago when physicians in certain specialities were “reimbursed” but psychiatrists weren’t, reducing the number of doctors going into the field.

Asked specifically about helping provide mental health services for children and supporting school systems in that regard, Grassley expressed concern about programs that would single out children. He commented that children from two-parent households have a better chance of having good mental health.

About the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Grassley said it appears to be “very good” for agriculture, services and manufacturing. He said he was leaning in favor of it but was still studying it.

He said presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are against it but that Clinton would be most likely to change her mind.

“Forget the candidates. Focus on wanting free trade agreements to be fair,” said Grassley. If he were Trump, he said he would say he supports free trade but that it hasn’t been fair. Grassley cited China’s manipulation of currency and government subsidies that have unfairly benefitted China in trade. He suggested Trump “talk about the tools we have already to offset unfair subsidies” and other tools that can make trade agreements more fair.

When asked about Republicans wavering on their support for Trump, Sen. Grassley said it has been “blown way out of proportion” by a liberal press. The real question, he said, “is why has it taken so long to get behind the candidate,” but did not elaborate.

Grassley spent some time criticizing Clinton, who he says “wants to build on Obama.” He said she would be “Obama on steroids.” He criticized the administration for contributing to a “stagnant middle income growth,” for low productivity, and for more taxes, more spending and more regulations. He said a Clinton presidency would “hold great uncertainty.”

About the Renewable Fuel Standard, Sen. Grassley said the EPA is trying to reduce ethanol requirements and Congress is fighting to get the levels returned to “what the law says.” He said the oil industry is pressuring EPA for changes.

In response to a question about regulations making it difficult for small banks to offer real estate loans, Grassley said certain-sized banks should be exempt from some regulations imposed by Doud-Frank.

In his most passionate comments, Sen. Grassley railed against bureaucrats having so much power to pass regulations. 

“Congress is at fault,” he said, for “delegating too much authority,” a problem he said goes back decades. 

He said that regulations with a “major economic cost” of $100 million or more should be voted on by Congress “so we are the last and final judges if bureaucrats went beyond their authority,” he said. However, he said such a requirement would “never get bipartisan support in the Senate” and “we need the president to support it.”

When asked if Trump would support it, Sen. Grassley said he didn’t know “but by the time I get done explaining it to him, he better!”

Sen. Grassley encouraged people to keep up with Senate news by visiting his website, facebook and other social media, and signing up for his e-newsletter.



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