Iowa Public Television

 

Sen. Charles Grassley

posted on September 15, 2006

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Borg: POLITICAL INSECURITY. UNCERTAIN OF CONTROL IN THE NEW CONGRESS, THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY IN THE CURRENT U.S. CONGRESS FOCUSES ON PRIORITIES BEFORE THE NOVEMBER ELECTION. PERSPECTIVE FROM IOWA REPUBLICAN SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THERE'S A DICHOTOMY IN THE ANALYSES OF THE ACTIVE AGENDA IN CONGRESS IN THESE FINAL WEEKS LEADING TO THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS. SOME CRITICS SAY BOTH LEGISLATIVE CHAMBERS ARE PURSUING WHAT IS CHARITABLY CALLED A RELAXED AGENDA. OTHERS CLAIM THERE ARE IMPORTANT ISSUES BEING DECIDED IN THESE WANING WEEKS. AND LATE THIS WEEK, THERE WAS EVIDENCE OF REPUBLICAN MUTINY WHEN REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE DEFIED THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN LEGISLATION CONCERNING THE TREATMENT OF SUSPECTED TERRORIST DETAINEES. WE'LL DISCUSS THE ISSUES FACING THE NATION WITH REPUBLICAN SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY. HE'S NOW IN HIS FOURTH SIX-YEAR TERM IN THE SENATE, WHERE HE CHAIRS THE POWERFUL SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE. WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Grassley: I'M ALWAYS GLAD TO BE HERE. THANK YOU FOR THE INVITATION.

Borg: AND YOU KNOW THE TWO FELLAS ACROSS THE TABLE VERY WELL: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, YOU WERE VERY MUCH IN THE NEWS IN THIS PAST WEEK WITH YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE CRITICAL OF U.S. POLICY IN IRAQ. AND THERE ARE THOSE WHO THINK THAT CRITICISM IS LINKED TO THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS. HAS THE ELECTION FEVER TAKEN OVER IN IRAQ?

Grassley: WELL, I THINK IT'S BEEN THERE FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANYTHING NEW. YOU WERE IN ON THE TELECONFERENCE THAT WE HAD AND, YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T START OUT WITH THE IDEA THAT I WAS GOING TO SPEAK SOME SORT OF REPUBLICAN AGENDA. IT WAS INTERPRETED THAT WAY, BUT YOU HEARD THAT I WAS REPORTING TO JAY NORMAN OF 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER' THE FEELINGS THAT WERE EXPRESSED IN MY TOWN MEETINGS BY PARENTS OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE MILITARY PEOPLE IN IRAQ. AND THEY WERE SAYING HOW SOMETIMES THE POLITICAL RHETORIC BACK HERE AGAINST THE WAR IS DEMORALIZING TO OUR TROOPS, AND I WAS JUST REPORTING THAT. AND OF COURSE, IT WAS INTERPRETED -- SHE WROTE IT ACCURATELY AND YOU WROTE IT ACCURATELY, BUT IT WAS INTERPRETED AS IF I WAS STARTING OUT ATTACKING DEMOCRATS. I DON'T ATTACK THE LOYALTY OF DEMOCRATS. I THINK DEMOCRATS ARE VERY LOYAL TOWARDS OUR EFFORTS, BUT I THINK IT NEEDS TO BE KNOWN TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT WHEN SOMETHING IS SAID ON THE SENATE FLOOR BY A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT THAT'S DEMORALIZING TO OUR TROOPS AND HELPING THE ENEMY BECAUSE IT'S REPORTED IMMEDIATELY -- I MEAN WITH SATELLITE IT'S REPORTED IMMEDIATELY ON ARAB AND MUSLIM TELEVISION, WE NEED TO TAKE THAT INTO CONSIDERATION AND NOT DO ANYTHING TO HURT OUR CAUSE.

Glover: BUT THE LARGER QUESTION IS HAS THE POLITICS OF THE 2006 ELECTION TAKEN OVER AND DRIVING POLICY IN IRAQ?

Grassley: NOT DRIVING POLICY IN IRAQ. IRAQ IS HAVING AN INFLUENCE ON THE POLITICAL SITUATION AND THE DECISIONS THAT ARE GOING TO BE MADE IN NOVEMBER. BUT IT'S NOT DRIVING THE POLITICS IN WASHINGTON.

Yepsen: SENATOR, TALK ABOUT DISSENT. HOW DO WE BALANCE THIS OUT? IF WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE, IF YOU'VE GOT CONSTITUENTS AND SERVICE PEOPLE WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HOW THAT GETS FELT IN A COMBAT ZONE AND YET WE HAVE A NEED TO HAVE A ROBUST DEBATE IN THIS COUNTRY, HOW DO YOU BALANCE THOSE OUT?

Grassley: WELL, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT. AND I THINK IN TERMS OF THOSE THAT ARE BEING CRITICAL, THEY JUST HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WHAT THEY SAY, THAT'S ALL. AND I THINK IT'S MORE HOW IT'S SAID AND THE VEIN IN WHICH IT'S SAID, MORE THAN THE POINTS THEY'RE TRYING TO MAKE, THAT'S BEEN ENCOURAGING TO THE ENEMY.

Glover: LET'S GO BACK TO YOUR VIEWS. WHAT'S CHARLES GRASSLEY'S ROAD MAP FOR WHAT WE DO IN IRAQ? HOW DO WE GET OUT OF THIS?

Grassley: MY ROAD MAP WAS SET WITH OUR POLICY ENUNCIATED ON JUNE 30, 2004, WHEN WE SET TWO GOALS. NUMBER ONE, AT THAT DATE WE TURNED IT BACK TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE TO RUN THEIR COUNTRY. AND TWO POINTS, TO SET UP A DEMOCRATIC REGIME. THAT'S DONE. THAT'S ACCOMPLISHED. THE SECOND ONE IS TO TRAIN THEIR TROOPS, AND WHEN THEIR TROOPS ARE TAKING OVER, WE WITHDRAW. AND IF YOU'D ASKED ME THIS QUESTION TWO, THREE MONTHS AGO, I'D SAY BY NOW WE'D START THE DRAWDOWN AND BY THE END OF THE YEAR WE WOULD HAVE LESS THAN 100,000 TROOPS THERE. RIGHT NOW THE INSURGENCY IS GREATER THAN ANTICIPATED, AND SO THE DRAWDOWN ISN'T ENCOURAGING. BUT WE ARE GAINING GROUND ON TRAINING THEIR TROOPS. AND, YOU KNOW, JUST TEN DAYS AGO WE HAD A CEREMONY TURNING CONTROL OF THE ENTIRE MILITARY SITUATION OVER TO THE IRAQI MILITARY.

Glover: BUT THE POLLS WOULD SUGGEST THAT VOTERS AREN'T WILLING TO PUT UP WITH MORE OF THE SAME. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?

Grassley: IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH, BUT I THINK IN AMERICAN POLITICS THAT THE BEST POLICY IS THE BEST POLITICS. AND I THINK WHEN YOU'RE FIGHTING A WAR THAT YOU ONLY GO INTO WAR FOR ONE REASON, AND THAT'S VICTORY.

Borg: BECAUSE OF COURT DECISIONS CONCERNING THE TREATMENT AND QUESTIONING TECHNIQUES OF DETAINEES SUSPECTED OF TERRORISM, THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS TRYING TO GET THROUGH CONGRESS NOW SOME LEGISLATION THAT WOULD BETTER DEFINE THAT SO THAT IT GIVES THEM CLEAR GUIDELINES THAT THEY WANT. YESTERDAY, AS I SAID IN OPENING THIS, THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, PROMINENT REPUBLICANS THERE DEFIED THE BUSH ADMISSION. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE HAPPEN IN THAT LEGISLATION?

Grassley: I WOULD -- I WANT TO SEE WHAT THE SUPREME COURT MAJORITY OPINION SAID, THAT CONGRESS CAN LEGISLATE WHAT THE PRESIDENT HAS THOUGHT WAS CONSTITUTIONAL UNTIL THE SUPREME COURT SAID HE DIDN'T HAVE THE CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY TO DO IT, AND CONGRESS TO LEGISLATE THAT AUTHORITY, BECAUSE YOU'RE GOT TO REMEMBER WHEN THE PRESIDENT STARTED OUT IN 2001 ON THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM, HE STARTED OUT WITH A HUNDRED YEARS OR MORE CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY AUTHORITY INCLUDING, AS RECENTLY AS 2001 AND 2002, CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY TO DO WHAT HE HAS BEEN DOING. AND EVERYBODY, HE FELT, AND MOST EVERYBODY FELT THAT HE WAS ACTING WITHIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER THAT HE HAD. SO THIS SUMMER THE SUPREME COURT SAID, NO, THAT'S NOT SO. SO NOW THE SUPREME COURT, AFTER DECADES, HAS CHANGED ITS WAY, AND THEY SAID CONGRESS HAS TO GIVE THE AUTHORITY FOR THE PRESIDENT TO DO WHAT HE HAS BEEN DOING. AND SO MY FEELING IS WE SHOULD GIVE THAT AUTHORITY TO THE PRESIDENT BECAUSE HE HAS STOPPED EIGHT TERRORIST ATTACKS. THE INSTRUMENTS USED HAVE STOPPED EIGHT TERRORIST ATTACKS AGAINST AMERICANS, AND THE PRESIDENT'S RESPONSIBILITY IS TO MAKE AMERICA AS SAFE AS HE CAN FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

Borg: BUT THE HOUSE VERSION OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, THE HOUSE PASSED WHAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WANTED, THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES. WHAT'S LIKELY TO HAPPEN NOW?

Grassley: WELL, IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO BE COMPROMISED AND WILL BE COMPROMISED, AND I THINK IN THE END WHEN PEOPLE THINK ABOUT IT AND THINK ABOUT THE TOOLS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN USING, STOPPING, FOR INSTANCE, 23 TERRORISTS TAKING DOWN TEN AMERICAN PLANES ABOUT THIS TIME, IF THEY HADN'T BEEN CAUGHT, AND EIGHT OTHER ATTACKS AGAINST US, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO WANT TO BE PROTECTED. SO THE BOTTOM LINE OF IT IS THAT YOU'VE GOT A VERY STRONG BIPARTISAN HOUSE ARMED SERVICES BILL. YOU'VE GOT A WEAKER SENATE ARMED SERVICES BILL. AND YOU'LL COMPROMISE SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN. AND IT'S NECESSARY TO MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT THE PRESIDENT IS DOING IS CONSTITUTIONAL, SO CONGRESS MUST ACT AND WE WILL ACT BEFORE SEPTEMBER THE 30.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WHAT DO WE MAKE OF THE POLITICS OF THIS? I NOTICED IN THIS DEBATE IN THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE THAT YOU'VE GOT REPUBLICANS LIKE LINDSEY GRAHAM AND JOHN WARNER AND JOHN MCCAIN WHO DISAGREE WITH THE PRESIDENT. ARE WE STARTING TO SEE THE REPUBLICANS COMING UNGLUED HERE? IS THIS STARTING TO ERODE THE SUPPORT THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS FROM CONGRESS?

Grassley: WELL, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND BY A VOTE OF ALMOST 50 SOME TO JUST 8 DISSENTERS, THAT'S VERY BIPARTISAN IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. SO THERE'S A LOT OF DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DON'T AGREE WITH DEMOCRATS IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE. SO THAT SHOWS, NUMBER ONE, THAT THE PRESIDENT'S EFFORTS TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM MORE ATTACKS AGAINST TERRORISTS IS WORKING AND THAT WE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO FIND A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION. SO THE FACT THAT SENATOR MCCAIN IS IN A DISAGREEMENT WITH THE PRESIDENT, I DON'T FIND THAT ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. HE'S -- HE'S CONCERNED. BUT I THINK WHAT YOU NEED TO -- WE NEED TO THINK -- KEEP IN THE BACK OF THE MIND IS WHEN IT COMES TO THE GENEVA CONVENTION, REMEMBER THE GENEVA CONVENTION WAS WAR BETWEEN STATES, AND IT DEFINES WHO THE COMBATANT IS. AND EVERY ONE OF THESE TERRORISTS THAT WE HAVE CAPTURED IS AN ILLEGAL COMBATANT AND IS NOT PROTECTED BY THE GENEVA CONVENTION. NOW, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL SAY, WELL, THEY OUGHT TO BE, AND THAT'S A LEGITIMATE QUESTION. BUT THEY HAVE NO LEGAL RIGHTS UNDER THE GENEVA CONVENTION. PEOPLE THINK THEY OUGHT TO HAVE ILLEGAL -- OR THEY OUGHT TO HAVE THESE RIGHTS, AND THAT'S A POINT THAT WE HAVE TO DEBATE AND DECIDE ON.

Glover: SENATOR, AFTER THE LAST ELECTION, THE PRESIDENT INVESTED A GOOD DEAL OF POLITICAL CAPITAL ATTEMPTING TO CREATE PRIVATE ACCOUNTS WITHIN SOCIAL SECURITY. IF REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO CONTROL CONGRESS AFTER THIS ELECTION, WILL THAT DEBATE BE REVISITED?

Grassley: I HOPE IT IS REVISITED VERY SOON BECAUSE EVERY YEAR WE WAIT ON A 75-YEAR PROJECTION IN COST, IT'S GOING TO MAKE THE SITUATION $600 BILLION WORSE. SO IF YOU'VE GOT A $10-TRILLION SHORTFALL AND TODAY YOU HAVE A 10.6-TRILLION SHORTFALL, DOESN'T THAT DICTATE THAT WE OUGHT TO DEAL WITH IT? NOW, THAT DOESN'T NECESSARILY HAVE TO INCLUDE PERSONAL ACCOUNTS, AND I WOULD NOT PUT PERSONAL ACCOUNTS AT THE HIGHEST PRIORITY. I WOULD PUT AT THE HIGHEST PRIORITY GUARANTEEING FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN THE SAME GOOD SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM I HAVE. BUT PERSONAL ACCOUNTS DO HAVE ADVANTAGE, AND THEY'RE VOLUNTARY. NOBODY HAS TO PARTICIPATE. AND NOTHING IS GOING TO BE DONE TO HURT ANYBODY IN RETIREMENT OR NEAR RETIREMENT. NO CHANGES ARE GOING TO BE MADE THERE. WE'RE JUST TRYING TO HELP OUR GRANDCHILDREN TO A GREATER EXTENT THAN THE PRESENT SYSTEM DOES. THAT'S WHAT PERSONAL ACCOUNTS ARE ALL ABOUT.

Glover: WELL, THAT'S WHAT YOU'D LIKE TO HAVE HAPPEN.

Grassley: YES.

Glover: YOU'VE BEEN AROUND CONGRESS A WHILE. GIVE US A LITTLE PREDICTION HERE. IF THE REPUBLICANS CONTROL CONGRESS, IS IT GOING TO HAPPEN?

Grassley: IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT 2007, 2008, I DOUBT IT. I WANT TO -- I WANT TO DO WHAT I CAN TO MAKE IT HAPPEN IF I CONTINUE TO BE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE, BUT IT BETTER BE AN ISSUE IN THE 2008 ELECTION. WE CAN'T AFFORD TO WAIT ONE MORE YEAR TO DECIDE THIS PROBLEM. IT JUST GETS WORSE AND WORSE.

Glover: IT'S GOING TO TAKE ANOTHER PRESIDENT.

Grassley: WHAT?

Glover: IT'S GOING TO TAKE ANOTHER PRESIDENT.

Grassley: WELL, IT'S GOT TO -- I'VE ALWAYS SAID THAT. IF YOU'RE GOING TO CHANGE OUR ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS OR HAVE A SIMPLIFIED TAX SYSTEM, IT HAS TO BE AN ISSUE OF NATIONAL DEBATE, AND THAT CAN ONLY HAPPEN IN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

Yepsen: MIKE ASKED YOU TO HANDICAP THE SOCIAL SECURITY DEBATE. I WANT TO BROADEN THAT QUESTION OUT. THE ODDS ARE NOW, SENATOR, THAT THE REPUBLICANS WILL KEEP CONTROL OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, MAYBE LOSE A FEW SEATS. BUT THERE ARE ALSO PEOPLE WHO PREDICT THE DEMOCRATS WILL CONTROL THE U.S. HOUSE. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

Grassley: IF YOU HAD ASKED ME THAT QUESTION IN JULY, I'D HAVE SAID ABSOLUTELY. BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED IN RHODE ISLAND THIS WEEK, WHAT HAPPENED IN SOME GEORGIA RACES WHERE DEMOCRATS COULD LOSE TWO RACES, YOU KNOW, IT'S A LITTLE MORE MUDDIED NOW AND NOT AS CERTAIN. IT'S A MUCH MORE UPBEAT ATMOSPHERE FOR REPUBLICANS THIS LAST WEEK THAN FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS.

Yepsen: WHAT -- WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT WILL WASHINGTON BE LIKE? WHAT WILL THE AGENDA BE IF YOU DO HAVE A REPUBLICAN SENATE AND A DEMOCRATIC HOUSE?

Grassley: WELL, YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A SAN FRANCISCO DEMOCRAT BY THE NAME OF PELOSI RUNNING THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE JOHN CONYERS CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. HE'S TALKED ABOUT IMPEACHING PRESIDENT BUSH. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT USED TO RUN THE DEMOCRAT -- HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ARE STILL AROUND, AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A COMPLETE ATTACK ON THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES IF THE DEMOCRATS CONTROL THE HOUSE. I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE GREAT GRIDLOCK.

Glover: ISN'T THAT WHAT REPUBLICANS DID TO BILL CLINTON?

Grassley: LISTEN, WE TOOK OVER IN 1994 AND WE EVENTUALLY, THROUGH SPENDING REDUCTIONS, PAID OFF $580 BILLION ON THE NATIONAL DEBT. IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THAT'S QUITE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND THAT DOESN'T SEEM TO ME LIKE THAT'S GRIDLOCK.

Glover: YOU SAID THAT REPUBLICANS WERE A LOT MORE UPBEAT LAST WEEK ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL MIDTERM ELECTIONS. WHAT'S GOING INTO THAT? WHAT'S CAUSING REPUBLICANS TO FEEL A LITTLE BETTER ABOUT THIS YEAR, BECAUSE THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE A GREAT YEAR?

Grassley: HOW DO YOU CONTROL A HOUSE? ONE SEAT AT A TIME. AND IF CHAFEE HAD BEEN DEFEATED IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY IN RHODE ISLAND, THE DEMOCRATS WOULD ONLY HAVE HAD TO PICK UP FIVE SEATS BECAUSE THERE'S NO CHANCE THAT WE WOULD KEEP THAT. IT'S A GOOD CHANCE NOW WE CAN KEEP RHODE ISLAND, AS AN EXAMPLE. TURMOIL -- OR REAPPORTIONMENT IN GEORGIA MAKES TWO MORE DEMOCRAT SEATS VULNERABLE. AND SO IT USED TO BE 40 SEATS THAT WERE IN PLAY. TODAY I'M TOLD 21 SEATS ARE IN PLAY. IF DEMOCRATS HAVE TO WIN 15 OUT OF 21 SEATS TO CONTROL THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THAT'S VERY DIFFICULT COMPARED TO CONTROLLING 15 OUT OF 40.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO GO BACK TO SOME OF THE ISSUES FACING CONGRESS.

Grassley: YEAH.

Yepsen: IMMIGRATION. WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH IMMIGRATION?

Grassley: THE HOUSE IS GOING TO PASS ANOTHER IMMIGRATION BILL SIMILAR TO WHAT THEY PASSED LAST DECEMBER. I THINK THERE WILL BE AN ATTEMPT TO GET IT THROUGH THE SENATE. I THINK IT WILL BE OBJECTED TO BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THAT WANT AMNESTY WILL OBJECT TO IT. I'M OPPOSED TO AMNESTY, AS I TOLD YOU. I LEARNED THAT LESSON IN '86. I VOTED FOR AMNESTY. ONE MILLION PROBLEM. YOUR REWARD, ILLEGALITY AND YOU GET A 12-MILLION PERSON ILLEGAL PROBLEM. SO I'M NOT GOING DOWN THE AMNESTY ROUTE AGAIN. BUT BORDER SECURITY AND EMPLOYER VERIFICATION, THOSE THINGS WOULD DO A GREAT DEAL OF GOOD, AND DEAL WITH THE AMNESTY ISSUE LATER ON. BUT I DOUBT IF THE PEOPLE WHO WANT AMNESTY IN THE SENATE WILL LET IT GO THROUGH, BUT THERE'S GOING TO BE ONE MORE ATTEMPT. AND WE OUGHT TO HAVE ONE MORE ATTEMPT. IT'S UNCONSCIONABLE THAT WE CAN'T CONTROL OUR BORDERS TO A GREATER EXTENT THAN WE ARE. AND THIS WOULD PUT 12,000 BORDER PATROL -- MORE BORDER PATROL PEOPLE ON.

Yepsen: JUST SO I UNDERSTAND, YOU THINK EMPLOYER VERIFICATION AND MORE BORDER SECURITY WOULD BE DOABLE BUT THAT THE PRO AMNESTY FACTIONS IN THE SENATE WILL OBJECT TO EVEN THAT AND SO YOU'LL WIND UP WITH NOTHING.

Grassley: WIND UP WITH NOTHING. MAYBE YOU CAN GET SOMETHING DONE IN A LAME DUCK SESSION, BUT I THINK YOU START OVER AGAIN NEXT YEAR IF WE DON'T GET IT DONE NOW. BUT, PEOPLE, THIS IS THE HOTTEST POLITICAL ISSUE OUT THERE THIS ELECTION. NOW, WE TALKED ABOUT IRAQ. BUT, REALLY, IN MY TOWN MEETINGS, IMMIGRATION IS A MUCH HOTTER ISSUE THAN IRAQ.

Glover: AND ONE OF THE THINGS CONGRESS IS GOING TO HAVE TO DO IN COMING YEARS IS WRITE A NEW FARM BILL. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE FARM BILL THAT'S ON THE BOOKS NOW, AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE NEXT FARM BILL BE A CONTINUATION OF THAT? WHAT KIND OF CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT --

Grassley: WELL, I'M HAPPY WITH THE FARM BILL THE WAY IT IS BECAUSE IT IS A SAFETY NET THAT WE HAVE HAD FOR AGRICULTURE FOR SEVENTY OR EIGHTY YEARS. AND A SAFETY NET IS IMPORTANT FOR AN INDUSTRY WHERE IT'S SUBJECT TO THE LAWS OF GOD AND NATURAL DISASTER, ECONOMIC -- WORLD ECONOMY, YOU KNOW, NATIONAL POLITICS. THERE'S SO MANY THINGS THAT INFLUENCE AND ARE DETRIMENTAL TO AGRICULTURE THAT THE FARMER HAS NO CONTROL OVER, THAT'S WHY A SAFETY NET. NOW, IT'S GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT WE'RE IN NOW. THE IDEAL ENVIRONMENT, THOUGH, WOULD BE TO GET THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION NEGOTIATIONS GOING AGAIN AND HAVE MARKET ACCESS SO WE CAN MARKET TO THE 96 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, BECAUSE WE'LL NEVER GET RICH IN FARMING -- MARKETING TO THE, YOU KNOW, THE 4 PERCENT LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES. SO IF WE GOT AN AGREEMENT WITH MARKET ACCESS, THAT WOULD DICTATE THAT WE CHANGE CONSIDERABLY THE FARM PROGRAM. BUT UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD CHANGE IT.

Glover: IS THAT LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

Grassley: IT BLEW UP IN JULY AND I DON'T THINK IT CAN HAPPEN.

Borg: I THINK YOU'VE ARGUED FROM TIME TO TIME THAT AGRICULTURE IS THE UNDERPINNING OF THE U.S. ECONOMY, BUT OTHERS WOULD ARGUE, NO, IT'S THE AUTO INDUSTRY. THERE'S EVIDENCE THAT THAT INDUSTRY IS IN DEEP TROUBLE. FORD LATE THIS WEEK SAID IT'S CLOSING MANY PLANTS, CLOSING MORE THAN IT PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED, LAYING OFF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS. GM IS DOING THE SAME. IS THERE A ROLE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND SHOULD THERE BE A ROLE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN SAVING THESE U.S. ICONS OF THE U.S. ECONOMY?

Grassley: THERE WAS IN 1979 TO SAVE CHRYSLER. WE DID IT. WE ACTUALLY MADE MONEY. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MADE MONEY OFF THE LOAN WE GAVE THEM. BUT AS I LOOK -- AND I SUPPORTED IT. BUT I LOOK BACK AT BAD POLITICS OR AT BAD ECONOMIC DECISIONS, WE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T EVEN HAVE DONE THAT AT THAT TIME. THERE WOULD STILL BE A CHRYSLER TODAY IF WE HADN'T DONE IT. BUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS JUST DELAYING DECISIONS THAT OTHERWISE HAVE TO BE MADE. AND SO WHEN YOU SAY THERE'S TROUBLE IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY, THERE'S TROUBLE IN THE BIG TWO OF THE AUTO INDUSTRY BUT THERE'S NOT TROUBLE IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY GENERALLY.

Yepsen: SENATOR, DEFICITS. THE NATION'S BUDGET DEFICIT CONTINUES TO GO UP AND UP. NOW, I REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A GOOD CONSERVATIVE AND YOU WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THAT. YOU'VE GOT TO BE -- KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS BUDGET DEFICIT?

Grassley: CAN I --

Yepsen: IT'S A BUNCH A DEBT, AND WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT IT?

Grassley: CAN I STILL BE A GOOD CONSERVATIVE WHEN I'M HELPING TO FREEZE DOMESTIC EXPENDITURES AT A TIME WHEN WE HAVE A BIG BUDGET DEFICIT? AND WE'D EVEN BE TOUGHER ON DEFENSE IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE FACT THAT WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR ON TERROR THAT WILL PROBABLY GO ON FOR TWENTY YEARS. ISN'T IT -- ISN'T THAT -- DOESN'T THAT BRING BACK MY CREDENTIALS THAT YOU THOUGHT I THREW AWAY? HOW ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE DEBT TODAY IS UNDER A 40-YEAR AVERAGE? THAT 40-YEAR AVERAGE IS ABOUT 40 PERCENT. IT'S 36 PERCENT OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. THE YEARLY DEFICIT IS 2.5 PERCENT OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT UNDER A THIRTY-YEAR AVERAGE. SO AND WE'RE WAY UNDER WHAT MOST INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACIES FEEL IS A MANAGEABLE DEFICIT. EUROPE, FOR INSTANCE, IS 3 PERCENT. WE'RE AT 2.5 PERCENT. WE WANT -- THERE'S TALK IN WASHINGTON. I'M NOT PART OF IT AT THIS POINT, BECAUSE I WANT TO WAIT UNTIL THERE'S MORE EVIDENCE. BUT IN TWO OR THREE YEARS, WE'LL BE PAYING DOWN SOME MORE ON THE NATIONAL DEBT, EVEN CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT WE'RE SPENDING TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ADDITIONALLY IN IRAQ RIGHT NOW. IF WE WEREN'T SPENDING THAT, YOU COULD TAKE A HUNDRED BILLION OFF OF THE NATIONAL -- OR THE ANNUAL DEFICIT RIGHT NOW. SO IF YOU LOOK AT IT ALONG THE LINES OF WHAT WE HAVE HAD AS NATIONAL POLICY AND WHAT OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS DO, THIS IS WHAT YOU CALL A MANAGEABLE DEBT. IS IT BETTER TO PAY DOWN $580 BILLION ON THE NATIONAL DEBT THAT WE DID IN '97 THROUGH THE YEAR 2000? I'M FOR THAT AND WE'RE WORKING TOWARDS THAT. BUT YOU WANT TO REMEMBER WE INHERITED A RECESSION THAT STARTED IN THE YEAR 2000. WE HAD 2011. FOR THREE YEARS THE ECONOMY WAS IN THE DOLDRUMS. WE CUT TAXES. AND BY CUTTING TAXES, WE BRING IN $274 BILLION MORE IN 2005 OVER 2004. THIS YEAR SO FAR WE'VE GOT $160 BILLION COMING IN MORE THAN IN 2005. SO OUR TAX POLICY IS BRINGING IN MORE REVENUE. WE'RE FREEZING THE DOMESTIC EXPENDITURES. WE'RE DOING THINGS THAT OUGHT TO SHOW TO PEOPLE THAT WE'RE TRYING TO GET THE DEFICIT UNDER CONTROL AND GET BACK TO A POINT WHERE WE'RE PAYING DOWN ON THE NATIONAL DEBT.

Glover: SENATOR, IT WOULDN'T BE AN OFFICIAL 'IOWA PRESS' SHOW IF WE DIDN'T TALK JUST A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PURE POLITICS. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S GOING ON IN POLITICS IS ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE OF THE AISLE, THERE'S A DEBATE ABOUT THE IOWA CAUCUSES AND THEIR ROLE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL SELECTION PROCESS, WHETHER IOWA OUGHT TO BE FIRST, WHETHER SOMEBODY OUGHT TO BE BEFORE NEW HAMPSHIRE. THE WHOLE THING BOILS DOWN TO THERE IS AT LEAST THE POTENTIAL THAT NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATS COULD MOVE THEIR PRIMARY DATE, WHICH WOULD CAUSE THE IOWA DEMOCRATS TO MOVE THEIR CAUCUS DATES. HOW SHOULD REPUBLICANS REACT TO THAT?

Grassley: REPUBLICANS IN IOWA AT LEAST AND HOPEFULLY CONTINUE WITH THE DEMOCRATS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE TO COOPERATE, TO MAKE SURE THAT IT'S IOWA FIRST CAUCUS, NEW HAMPSHIRE FIRST PRIMARY, BECAUSE AS DAVID BRODER SAID, THIS IS THE BEST SORT OF RETAIL POLITICS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE BEST CANDIDATES OF BOTH PARTIES ARE SELECTED. AND HE IS USING HISTORY TO BACK THAT UP, AND I THINK THAT'S THE BEST EVIDENCE THAT WE OUGHT TO CONTINUE WHERE WE ARE, AND THE EFFORT TO BRING THESE OTHER STATES IN IS JUST AN EFFORT TO SATISFY WITHIN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, NOT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, CERTAIN STRONG MINORITY INTERESTS WITHIN THIS PARTY.

Glover: BUT THAT'S THE WAY IN AN IDEAL WORLD THE WAY YOU'D LIKE TO SEE THINGS HAPPEN, BUT IN THE REAL WORLD WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT THE DEMOCRATS DECIDED TO STICK NEVADA IN BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE BECAUSE OF THEIR MINORITY POPULATION, AND NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATS ARE VERY UPSET ABOUT THAT AND MAY WELL MOVE. IN THAT CASE HOW SHOULD REPUBLICANS REACT?

Grassley: WELL, IF WE DON'T -- IF WE DON'T WORK WITH NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS AND IOWA DEMOCRATS, THEN WE'RE NOT GOING TO END UP WITH THE TRADITION THAT HAS WORKED SO WELL FOR CHOOSING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN AMERICA, WHICH IS THE IOWA CAUCUS FIRST, THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY FIRST.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'RE SEEING IN BOTH PARTIES LOTS OF POTENTIAL 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CRISSCROSSING THE STATE STARTING UP THEIR CAMPAIGNS. WHO IN THE REPUBLICAN SIDE IS DOING WELL?

Grassley: ONLY ONE STANDS OUT RIGHT NOW, JOHN MCCAIN, BECAUSE OF HIS EFFORTS POLITICALLY TO PURSUE IT. ANOTHER PERSON WHO WOULD STAND OUT WOULD BE GIULIANI, IF HE WERE TAKING ON A CAMPAIGN MODE. OTHER THAN THAT, MOST EVERYBODY FALLS INTO THE CATEGORY OF GETTING 2 TO 6 TO 8 PERCENT OF THE POLLS WHEREVER THEY MIGHT SHOW UP.

Yepsen: WELL, TALK ABOUT SOME OF THESE INDIVIDUALS. COULD RUDY GIULIANI RUN WELL IN A REPUBLICAN FIGHT IN IOWA GIVEN HIS -- HE'S FOR GAY RIGHTS; HE'S PRO-CHOICE. ISN'T THAT A DEAL BREAKER WITH A LOT OF REPUBLICANS?

Grassley: I THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO BE A VERY STRONG SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE TO DO WELL IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES.

Yepsen: AND IS THE FACT THAT GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY OF MASSACHUSETTS IS A MORMON, IS THAT GOING TO HURT HIM WITH THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?

Grassley: IF HIS RELIGION IS NOT AN ISSUE, THE ANSWER IS NO BECAUSE HE IS SO STRONG ON OTHER SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS.

Glover: AND THERE ARE REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE SUGGESTED TO ME THAT REPUBLICANS DON'T REALLY NOMINATE CANDIDATES, THEY ANOINT THEM, THAT THE REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT KIND OF SETTLES ON A CANDIDATE AND DECIDES THAT'S WHO THE NOMINEE IS GOING TO BE. FOR EXAMPLE, IN 2000 GEORGE BUSH HAD A PRIMARY, BUT EVERYBODY KNEW THAT BUSH WAS GOING TO BE THE NOMINEE. IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN THE PROCESS OF ANOINTING JOHN MCCAIN?

Grassley: NO. I THINK JOHN MCCAIN HAS GOT TO PROVE THAT HE CAN GET A BROAD BASE REPUBLICAN SUPPORT PARTICULARLY AMONG CONSERVATIVES. IF HE CAN SHOW THAT, HE MAY BE ANOINTED BUT TODAY HE'S NOT ANOINTED. AND I DON'T THINK HE'S ON THE PROCESS OF BEING ANOINTED YET.

Yepsen: SENATOR, IN 2000 HE BYPASSED IOWA, HAD ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS WITH ETHANOL. HAS HE GOT A PROBLEM IN IOWA BECAUSE HE BYPASSED THIS STATE IN 2000?

Grassley: NOT -- NO. PEOPLE HAVE FORGOT ABOUT THAT. HE'S COMING INTO IOWA STRONG.

Yepsen: WHAT'S HIS APPEAL TO IOWA REPUBLICANS?

Grassley: I BELIEVE THAT THE THING THAT WOULD APPEAL MOST TO IOWA REPUBLICANS IS HIS FIGHT FOR OPENNESS IN THE APPROPRIATION AND BUDGETING PROCESS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

Borg: WHAT ARE YOU ADVISING HIM?

Grassley: HE HASN'T ASKED ME FOR ANY ADVICE. IF HE DOES, I'LL BE GLAD TO ADVISE HIM.

Glover: WHO DO YOU THINK THE DEMOCRATS WILL PICK?

Grassley: HILLARY CLINTON.

Glover: AND CAN HE BEAT HER?

Grassley: YES, HE CAN. AND LET'S PUT IT THIS WAY, IT IS VERY OBVIOUS -- IT IS VERY OBVIOUS BEFORE THE REPUBLICAN PROCESS IS FINISHED, MAYBE EVEN BEFORE IOWA IS FINISHED, THAT HILLARY HAS GOT IT SEWED UP, IT'S GOING TO MAKE MCCAIN LOOK AWFUL GOOD TO AN AWFUL LOT OF REPUBLICANS WHO MIGHT OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT LIKE HIM.

Borg: I HATE TO INTERRUPT THIS KITCHEN TABLE DISCUSSION BECAUSE YOU'RE BEING CANDID WITH US AND WE APPRECIATE THAT.

Grassley: WELL, THEN DON'T INTERRUPTED IT. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: I'M GETTING INSTRUCTIONS OTHERWISE. WE'RE OUT OF TIME.

Grassley: OKAY.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS' -- THANK YOU, SENATOR GRASSLEY -- WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING WITH CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS IN EASTERN IOWA'S FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. THE TWO MAJOR PARTY CANDIDATES SEEKING THAT OPEN CONGRESSIONAL SEAT: WATERLOO DEMOCRAT BRUCE BRALEY AND BETTENDORF REPUBLICAN MIKE WHALEN WILL BE HERE AT THE TABLE NEXT WEEK. YOU CAN SEE THE PROGRAM AT OUR REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. THAT'S 'IOWA PRESS' FOR THIS WEEKEND. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA' PRESS WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.


Tags: Iowa