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Grassley visits SHS students

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, addresses about 60 students and teachers at Spencer High School Wednesday morning. Students asked questions ranging from student loans and the value of the dollar to bipartisanship and Grassley's favorite moments as a senator.
(Photo by Gabe Licht)
As Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, embarks on his annual 99-county tour of Iowa, his goal is to meet with high school students and service club members, in addition to town hall attendees.

He achieved one of those goals as he visited Spencer High School for the first time since being elected in 1980, the same year government teacher Steve Bomgaars began teaching at the school.

Grassley encouraged interested students to apply to be interns in his office once they graduate. When asked if an intern's political affiliation matters, he said the only qualifications are to support the decisions he has made and abide by privacy laws.

Students referenced bipartisanship on more than one occasion, including a question about the last time Grassley voted for a Democratic bill.

"I would say last week on the postal reform bill," Grassley said.

Of the 62 votes for the bill, only 11 were by Republicans. After the forum, Grassley explained that many conservatives are worried that refunding $11 billion from the Federal Employee Retirement system would add to the deficit, though the money came from postage and not taxes.

Part of the $11 billion would go to $25,000 buyouts to postal workers in the hope that 100,000 of 557,000 employees would retire, saving the agency $8 billion annually.

Now the bill moves to the House of Representatives, where Grassley expects action on it.

"I can't believe they aren't going to do something," Grassley said. "They'll probably be a little tighter than we are and maybe demand more compromise. They may even try to privatize first-class mail."

Nonetheless, he believes reforms must be put in place.

On the topic of his favorite moments, Grassley said his first major victory was the False Claims Act 25 years ago, which has since resulted in the return of $28 billion in wasteful spending to the federal treasury.

Passing the largest tax cut in history, doing away with congressional exemptions from laws -- which will apply to health care reform, if upheld by the Supreme Court -- and passing a prescription drug plan for Medicare recipients also ranked among his highlights.

Later, Grassley predicted the individual mandate portion of health care reform will be declared unconstitutional, and he hopes that to be the case for the entire law.

"I hope they declare the whole thing unconstitutional so we can start over again, instead of fine tuning it," he said.

Grassley believes over-regulation, high corporate taxes and lawsuits are the main factors hurting America's ability to compete with other countries in areas like technology and business.

"We create a lot of things that make us economically uncompetitive," he said.

Difficult majors, such as engineering, should also be promoted to help level the playing field with other countries, he believes.

Preventing the interest rate on student loans from increasing is a bipartisan goal, according to Grassley, though each party has different methods to do so. Keeping college costs down, however, is more difficult because of the different factors affecting the more than 2,000 private colleges and 50 different state university systems, he added.

When asked about how to restore the value of the dollar, Grassley facetiously answered, "Get rid of the Federal Reserve System."

"I don't really mean that because if you got rid of the Federal Reserve System, you'd turn monetary policy over to Congress, and it would be too political then," Grassley clarified. "What we have to put pressure on the Federal Reserve to do is when they put money out that inflates things, they have to draw that back."

Grassley has been out-spoken about scandals that have rocked the Secret Service, and commented on the situation following the forum.

"If it's a few knuckleheads like the president said, then I think we're over the hump, but there's reason to believe things like that happened in El Salvador, Buenos Aires and Moscow," Grassley said. "We've got to make sure it's not a part of the culture of the Secret Service. If it is, we have big problems."

Considering Social Security is expected to be bankrupt by 2033, Grassley referenced past failed attempts to address the situation and said, "We can't wait until 2032 to do something about it."

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32 years as an elected official.......but he considers himself a farmer?

-- Posted by helped_myself on Thu, May 3, 2012, at 11:10 AM

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