The August Recess in Iowa
by Paul Deaton
summer, representative government is not working as there have been no
public events scheduled near us with the senior senator.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is out pressing the flesh with Iowans during the August recess, even if he is not scheduling the same number of public events as he did during 2009. Folks like us have trouble catching up with the senator to be a part of what he calls “representative government.” Representative government, according to Grassley, takes both the elected officials and the constituents to work. This summer, representative government is not working as there have been no public events scheduled near us with the senior senator. As Grassley keeps his own counsel, he does not likely see the benefit of meeting with members of the public like us, at least during an election year.
There are a few things on my mind.
Health care reform, the big topic of last summer's town hall circuit is not really at the top of my list. I get it, Senator Grassley takes a significant amount of campaign contributions from folks in the medical and medical services professions and he wouldn't want to spoil the well with them to do right by Iowans. Teaming up with the Republican caucus was the thing to do to support those interests who disfavored the bill. According to OpenSecrets.org, Senator Grassley's top contributors during the 2010 election cycle were, Amgen, Inc., Blue Cross Blue Shield and Leon Medical Centers. Follow the money, it tells the story and it is not about helping everyday folks like you and me.
Financial reform? No, that's not on the top of the list either. It has become clear that Grassley supports Wall Street and not Main Street when it comes to financial reform. With all of his years as chair or ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee Grassley seems to have come to take his counsel from the Washington gang of lobbyists and trade association members. Asking him about that would serve little purpose and as with health care, the Democrats were able to get a bill passed without him.
What I would like to ask is something that is often missed.
Senator Chuck Grassley, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was one of the chief architects of the financial collapse of 2008. Grassley was chair from January 7, 2003 – December 9, 2006. He did not have a way to pay for the tax cuts that are about to expire. The war in Iraq was initiated during Grassley's tenure as chair and was waged outside the normal budget process with his tacit approval. These two items alone made a significant contribution to our exploding deficit. Senator Grassley was in a position to help prevent the collapse from happening, but did not. The question I would ask is why, when you had the power, did you contribute to driving the economy into the ditch?
I don't suppose there is an answer to that. Luckily, there is another, Roxanne Conlin, who is holding town hall meetings this August where she is listening to people. When we can't get a word in with an inaccessible senator there is a message there: it is time for a change. It is time for Senator Grassley to retire. It is time to elect Roxanne Conlin as United States Senator.
~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton