King talks tariffs, Trump’s recent foreign meetings
NOTE: Between when the video fades to black at 24:43 and when the video resumes, U.S. Rep. Steve King said, "I happen to be the most effective member of the United States Congress and, of course, my critics aren't going to look at that as it doesn't fit their narrative. I'd say something else," according a review of the audio recording by King's representative Andrea Easter.
Representative addresses racism challenges, effectiveness in Washington
Iowa’s 4th District U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, started his Friday off in Spencer with a morning meeting attended by members of the Spencer Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee. After concluding his hour-long session with the local agriculture committee, the congressman sat down for a nearly half hour conversation with the Daily Reporter where he addressed the current tariff impact on his district, President Donald Trump’s recent diplomatic meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as well as his proposed Birthright Citizenship Act, charges of racism and his perceived effectiveness in Washington, D.C.
Many of the questions posed to King came from submissions received by the Daily Reporter through social media avenues.
King called the tariff situation and its potential short- and long-term impacts on his district, as well as other agriculture producers across the country, a “very complex question,” noting that in the short-term, “they’ve already impacted the markets.”
“He (Trump) indicated that he wouldn’t hurt agriculture,” King said, “but how do you define that? I think it’s actually hurt agriculture by now.”
“In the short term it’s already hurt our farm markets,” the congressman claimed. “The tariffs that the Chinese have put on hit this congressional district harder than any other district in America. There are 435 districts, but we produce more pork and more soybeans than anybody else and of course that’s the central target of the of the retaliatory tariffs the Chinese have put on.”
King pointed to Larry Kudlow, chief economic advisor to the president, who has asked him to let it play out and allow Trump some months to negotiate, believing the president can bring this to a positive conclusion.
“That’s something that’s probably okay all the way up until the time the beans turn,” King said. “Then when the beans turn, then it gets serious. That’s not very far down the road. I’d say if we’re putting a date on the calendar, Labor Day. When we come back to work, the Tuesday after Labor Day, we need to have a lot better situation, at least on the near horizon, than we have today. That’s the message I’m taking back to Washington next week as well. I’ll be delivering that thing pretty strongly.”
He added, “I think the people out here say, ‘Alright, let’s stick with Mr. President,’ but we can’t do that unlimited and we sure don’t want to go into anything that looks like the '80s.”
King suggested, “We really do have a better hand to play. Our cards are better than the Chinese cards for example.”
He explained, “This will be resolved on the question of, ‘Do the Chinese need our market more than we need the Chinese market?’ They are so dependent on the U.S. market. If it hadn’t been for the U.S. market, the Chinese economy would not have been anywhere near the growth they have had the last 20 years or so. But if we play our cards just right, then we come out on top.”
King mentioned a young man from Farm Bureau who came to his office last week. During their conversation, the man asked King, “What’s it going to be like if I fire up my combine and I’m combining $7 beans?”
“I don’t want to see that either,” King said. “I lived through the '80s. We have that memory here of what that was like.”
Looking ahead, King said problems could appear if the current battling tariffs turn into a “long-term, full-fledged trade war.”
“I make the point that there are 7 billion people on the planet, we’re on our way to 9 billion people on the plant — they all have to eat. So these products that we produce are going to be sold somewhere. We have export lines and transportation and trade that flow over to Asia and particularly into China that are well established and are efficient. If we have to replace a China market by sending our soybeans to multiple different locations, we have to re-establish trade routes, re-establish trade negotiations in some of them and it would diversify. As it gets more complex we lose efficiency.”
That could open the doors to another challenger in soybean exports.
“While that’s going on, there’s incentives there for Brazil, for example, to up its soybean production. I was down there a few years ago. They said to me they could double their soybean projection without taking out a single tree, but if they clear their savannas they could multiply their soybean acres by a factor of eight. I don’t want to see an incentive for the Brazilians to up their soybean production because that will suppress our markets for a long, long time to come.”
King said he discussed potential impacts of tariffs with the president months ago.
“At that time I made the point, ‘Here we are with soybean production and pork production, and this is the place where his campaign really got launched, so you’ve got to hold Iowa.”
Birthright Citizenship Act
King responded to a suggestion that his proposed Birthright Citizenship Act is unconstitutional based on the language of the 14th Amendment.
The congressman pointed to what he referred to as the “operative clause” in the 14th Amendment, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” claiming it provides a significant amount of scholarship.
“Who is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States?” he asked, citing examples of foreign diplomats and select native American tribes are excluded from inclusion because of their status.
King said, “If you have someone who is an illegal alien that sneaks into America to have a baby, and that happens everyday, and it happens in this country to the tune of between 330,000 and 750,000 babies a year born in America where both parents are illegal — they become American citizens by practice, not by law and not by constitution. So Birthright Citizenship Act is constitutional. There are those who think otherwise, I don’t think they have dug into it very deeply.
“I will recognize they weren’t prepared for those arguments because they had not read into it some of the details I’ve described here.”
The congressman pointed to a pair of circumstances which he feels his Birthright Citizenship Act is designed to stop.
“There’s a birth tourism industry going on in America,” King claimed. “I haven’t looked at these numbers now in several years, but the turn-key price for a pregnant Chinese mother was $30,000 to fly to the United States, say five, six months of pregnancy, stay here, go through the whole OB-GYN — the full American health care treatment — have the baby, the little babies footprints stamped on the birth certificate, put her and the baby back on the plane, fly her back to China, 30,000 bucks. Then they have their automatic American citizen, who once they turn 18, can begin to bring in the family reunification plan and the chain migration. It is an industry that’s been developed.”
He told a story about a Mexican national who was scheduled to have quintuplets and snuck across the border to deliver her children in a Tucson, Arizona hospital. She had the children who after birth were cared for in the neonatal unit before they were released with a bill of $125,000 which was passed along to the American taxpayer.
“We got five new American citizens in that deal,” King said. “It cost us $25,000 each just for the hospital bill. Those things need to stop.”
He continued, “It defies logic to think that anybody who can sneak into America and have a baby then gets an automatic pass for not only that child but for all of that family that would come with chain migration.”
President Trump meetings with Kim Jong Un, Putin
In the past, King has been openly critical of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — going so far as to call the latter “a chubby little dictator” — suggested despite his feeling about both men, President Trump’s decision to sit down with both could reap benefits.
“He is evil and he is vicious and he’s executed his own family members ... that parts brutal,” King said, speaking of the North Korean leader. “The president accepted the invitation to sit down with Kim Jong Un. That was a bold move. I said I would not have done that but he did. It looks like there’s a chance we could get out of this with a very, very positive result.”
King defended Trump over the heat he received from some regarding his remarks placing both men in a positive light following their meetings.
“Maybe one of the things you agree on is that you’re not going to walk out that door and undercut the guy you just sat down with,” King suggested. “I think that’s what’s happened with Kim Jong Un to a degree, and also with Putin.”
He added, “Ironically it seems as though there’s people in this country, and usually they are on the other side of the aisle from me, will argue that no one should have ever talked to any Russian ever.”
The Iowa 4th District representative talked about recent “tense” discussions he was involved with between the U.S. and Russia, but said it’s necessary for the two nations to talk.
“Part of that discussion was we need to build better personal relationships between us so that we can talk to each other and humanize all of this so we can take the temperature down,” King said. “That’s really hard to do with the Russians.”
King addressed questions suggesting he is a racist based on a Confederate flag which had been displayed on his desk and his retweeting of comments made by persons who are allegedly attached to racist organizations.
He noted he doesn’t have time to refute those who have made such accusations against him, suggesting they are unfounded. He cited a great-uncle who fought in the Civil War to put an end to the South. King keeps his great-uncle’s Bible on the coffee table in his office.
“My family dates back to Abraham Lincoln,” King said, noting they were abolitionists.
King argued the confederate flag is not a symbol of slavery in “this contemporary era,” challenging anyone to Google “slavery” and find the Confederate flag.
“Type in ‘southern pride’ and that image shows up regularly as the symbol,” he said. “The Confederate flag today, it is a symbol of southern pride and it is now a symbol of freedom of speech.”
The congressman cited a speech he delivered two summers ago when the flag issue was the hot topic. He suggested nobody wanted to stand up and debate the matter, afraid of the pushback.
“I went down and I stood alone, and I stood for freedom of speech and I defended the history that has ended slavery, and that’s part of the legacy for my family,” King said.
He did note following the execution of a pair of Des Moines police officers last year, he did remove the Confederate flag from his desk after the perpetrator had used the flag to “gin up some controversy” at a football game before he killed the officers. King did not say if the flag had returned to his desk following its removal.
King did say he recently retweeted a Huffington Post “attack” article which challenged the congressman’s race beliefs.
“I want people to see how bad the critics are, how dishonest,” he explained. “In that tweet I put a text that says: ‘If I were to redact everything in this article that are blatant lies, this would be like Congress had subpoenaed an FBI document on Hillary Clinton. There would be nothing left to read.’ ... They are in the business of trying to muzzle me because a position I take is effective. ...”
Effectiveness in Washington
King called claims he is ineffective in Washington false, defending the work he has done during his time in Congress.
“Of course that’s not true,” he insisted. “Anybody who wants to do the research can determine that.”
He pointed to his contributions, taking bills and turning them into amendments to get them passed on the floor.
King said, “It’s not as important to pass bills as it is to kill bad ideas. I don’t know if anybody has done more damage to kill bad ideas than I have.”
The congressman pointed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions visit to northwest Iowa prior to being named attorney general. King acknowledged he wasn’t in room, but word got back to him regarding remarks made about the Kiron resident.
King paraphrased the comments, claiming Sessions told those he was speaking to he “never saw anybody in Congress get so much done and get so little credit as Steve King.”
“If I’m ineffective, why does Washington want to get rid of me?” King asked.
Heading back to Washington
King quickly responded with his top priority upon returning to Washington, D.C.
“Finish the farm bill,” he said. “Get it done by Sept. 30, without extension. Get it done. I don’t want it hanging off til election time. I want it done, I want it packaged up. I want it signed into law. I want our producers when they’re doing their fall tillage to know what next year’s farm bill is going to look like for them. It would be nice if we could get it done sooner ... it’s going to be an intense effort to get it concluded by Sept. 30. There are pessimists out there that think it’s not going to happen.”
Steve King Interview
The entire uncut SDR video interview with U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, is available online at www.spencerdailyreporter.com.