OSAGE | On Friday, May 4, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) held a town hall meeting at the Cedar River Complex, as part of his annual 99-county tour.
Grassley began the session by stating, “If you don’t agree with something, this is your opportunity to address it.”
Kati Henry, Executive Director of the Osage Chamber of Commerce, said, “How do you feel about apprenticeships and trade programs?” Grassley said he supported these programs for students and federal money has been allocated for these types of programs.
“A good portion of those funds go to community colleges and the governor has been moving on the STEM Program,” Grassley said. He added he favored public school districts promoting technical training.
Asked why the DACA issue wasn’t addressed with the latest spending bill, Grassley said, “There are lawsuits surrounding this issue and I don’t think it will be addressed by Congress, until some court rulings come down.”
During the congressional debate on immigration, Grassley said he proposed a bill supported by several other senators, “We got a majority vote, but not the 60 votes,” Grassley said. A total of 60 vote are required to stop a filibuster in the Senate.
When the subject of the national debt arose, Grassley said, “Several states have constitutional amendments to balance their budgets. We need a constitutional amendment on the national level,” Grassley said. “From 1997 to 2000, we actually paid $568 million on the national debt.” Citing a long term study on congressional spending, Grassley said, “For every dollar that came in during that period of time, Congress spent a $1.13, so it’s easy to see why we are in debt.”
Keith Mayer questioned why taxes were cut so much for the wealthy, in the latest tax bill. Grassley said, “In this tax bill, for the first time in our history, we gave small business a five percent cut above the line for the risk they take. It is big share of the tax bill.
“We don’t have a taxing problem, we have a spending problem. If something isn’t done by 2050, its estimated Medicare, and Social Security will take up all of the national budget.”
Grassley cited one of the major contributing factors for the explosion of costs for Social Security and Medicare is life expectancy has moved up from the 60s, when Social Security was founded, to 76 years of age.
Speaking on trade, Grassley said President Trump uses a businessman’s approach in negotiating, which is different from former presidents’ approach to trade. “I get nervous, because the first tariffs hit agriculture,” Grassley said. “I sense a little light at the end of the tunnel, but I don’t want to mislead anybody.”
Asked where he would cut the national budget, Grassley said he doesn’t favor cutting any specific area of the budget, but he favors sequestration that was present from 2013 to 2016. He cited when Congress cuts only one area of the budget, it creates more resistance than across the board cuts through sequestration.