Iowa Public Television

 

Senator Grassley

posted on November 20, 2007

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Borg: CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK. CONSTITUENT FRUSTRATION. AS ELECTIONS LOOM, PARTISANSHIP REIGNS. WE'LL QUESTION IOWA REPUBLICAN SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY ABOUT MAJOR ISSUES FACING CONGRESS ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS, DEDICATED TO A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT BY SHIPPING EACH TON OF FREIGHT OVER 400 MILES ON ONE GALLON OF FUEL. AMERICA'S FREIGHT RAILROADS, ON THE WEB AT FREIGHTRAILWORKS.ORG; 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, NOVEMBER 23 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: PUBLIC OPINION POLLS ARE GIVING LOW SATISFACTION RATINGS TO BOTH THE PRESIDENT AND TO CONGRESS. NOT SURPRISINGLY, THEY BLAME EACH OTHER, PRESIDENT BUSH SAYING CONGRESS IS BEHIND ON ITS WORK, PARTICULARLY CRAFTING THE NEW CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET, AND DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS ACCUSING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS FOR BLOCKING LEGISLATION. IF YOU'RE ASKING, SO WHAT'S NEW, YOU'RE REFLECTING VOTER FRUSTRATION AS THE NATION NOW MOVES INTO A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR. AND IT'S WITH THAT BACKDROP THAT IOWA SENIOR REPUBLICAN SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY JOINS US TODAY. SENATOR GRASSLEY, 'IOWA PRESS' IS FAMILIAR TERRITORY FOR YOU OVER THE YEARS. YOU'VE BEEN HERE MANY, MANY TIMES.

Grassley: AND YOU KNOW I ENJOY IT.

Borg: THANK YOU. AND ACROSS THE TABLE, YOU KNOW WELL POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN OF 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER' AND 'IOWA PUBLIC RADIO'S' JENEANE BECK.

Beck: SENATOR, THIS WEEKEND SORT OF KICKS OFF THE HOLIDAY BUYING SEASON. HOWEVER, WE HEAR THAT SALES MAY BE SLUGGISH, THE ECONOMY IS APPEARING TO BE SLUGGISH. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF IT AND IS CONGRESS CONCERNED?

Grassley: CONGRESS IS CONCERNED BUT I THINK CONGRESS GOT THE CAPABILITY OF SCREWING IT UP TOO IF THEY INTERVENE TOO MUCH. I THINK WE'VE GOT TO RELY UPON THE FED, WHICH IS NONPOLITICAL IN THEIR APPROACH. I THINK WE'VE GOT TO REPLY UPON THE FED, WHICH IS NON POLITICAL IN THEIR APPROACH. I THINK WE HAVE TO RELY UPON SOMEBODY BITING THE DUST, FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE MISTAKES THEY'VE MADE LIKE THOSE BIG BANKS THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THE SECURITIZATION OF SUBPRIME LOANS AS AN EXAMPLE. AND I THINK FOR THE MOST PART, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THE ECONOMY SLOW DOWN A LITTLE BIT, BUT WHEN YOU SLOW DOWN FROM ALMOST 4 PERCENT DOWN TO 2.5 PERCENT WHEN YOU'RE -- THE REST YOU'RE ALL GROWING AT MAYBE 8 PERCENT, I THINK WE'RE IN A PRETTY GOOD POSITION, I DON'T SEE A RECESSION.

Beck: YET THE DOLLAR IS FALLING. THE VALUE OF THE DOLLAR. SO COULD THAT TURN US -- PUSH US INTO A RECESSION?

Grassley: NOT AS LONG AS PEOPLE HAVE CONFIDENCE IN AMERICA'S ECONOMY AND IT SEEMS LIKE THEY'RE MAINTAINING THAT CONFIDENCE. BUT WE DO HAVE TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FALLING DOLLAR, NOT SO MUCH HOW IT IS IN RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER CURRENCIES BUT WHETHER OR NOT WE CARE ABOUT IT. SO I THINK THERE HAVE BEEN SOME BAD SIGNALS COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON RECENTLY THAT MAYBE WE DON'T CARE. NOW JUST LAST WEEK I THINK THE SECRETARY OF TREASURY, MR. PAULSON, WAS WAKING UP TO THAT, AND HE SPOKE A LITTLE MORE STRONGLY ABOUT OUR CONCERN ABOUT THE DOLLAR. BUT DON'T FORGET WE ARE BENEFITING FROM THE DOLLAR HAVING SOME LESSER VALUE FROM THE STANDPOINT THAT WE'RE HAVING A LOWER TRADE DEFICIT AND WE'RE HAVING A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF EXPORTS THAN MAYBE WE WOULDN'T OTHERWISE HAVE. ONE COUNTRY WHERE IT DOESN'T DO US ANY GOOD IS WITH CHINA, BECAUSE CHINA TIES ITS YUAN TO OUR DOLLAR. AND THE EXTENT TO WHICH CHINA OUGHT TO LET THEIR CURRENCY FLOAT, THEN WE WOULD BENEFIT IN OUR TRADE WITH CHINA TO A BETTER EXTENT THAN WE ARE RIGHT NOW. HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU, SENATOR, THAT THE CHINESE WILL QUIT LOANING US MONEY, QUIT BUYING OUR DEBT, OR THAT COUNTRIES WOULD START BUYING THINGS IN EUROS -- THINGS THAT ARE DENOMINATED IN EUROS AND THAT THE DOLLAR WILL NO LONGER BE THE WORLD'S CURRENCY OF TRADE?

Grassley: WELL, FOR INSTANCE, AS THE PRICE OF OIL HAS GONE UP, PARTLY DUE TO THE DECLINE OF THE DOLLAR, WE HAVE TO PAY MORE FOR OUR GAS. IF IT'S TIED TO THE EURO AND THE EURO IS STRONGER, THEN THAT BENEFITS US TO SOME EXTENT, THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE PUT OUR PRIVATE AS WELL AS PUBLIC DEBT OUT FOR PEOPLE TO -- TO GRASP AND TO INVEST IN, YOU KNOW, WE DO THAT THROUGH THE MARKETPLACE. WE DON'T GO HAND ON KNEE TO CHINA TO SAY WILL YOU BAIL US OUT. THEY DECIDE THEY WANT TO INVEST IN US, AND I THINK YOUR QUESTION IMPLIED THAT. AND I THINK THAT WE STILL HAVE THEIR CONFIDENCE. I THINK IT IS SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT. BUT CONFIDENCE IN AMERICA, PEOPLE STILL WANT TO INVEST IN AMERICA.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WHY IS THAT THIS? WHY IS THIS DOLLAR CRISIS OCCURRING? IS IT BECAUSE THIS COUNTRY HAS TOO MUCH DEBT AND NOBODY AROUND THE WORLD BELIEVES WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO PAY IT OFF? Grassley NOW, LISTEN, A LOT OF THE DEBT IS PRIVATE DEBT. SO YOU AS A CONSUMER, IS KING OF BUYING OVERSEAS, BORROWING ON YOUR HOUSE, TO BORROW AND LIVE AND LIVE MATERIALISTIC TODAY, YOU'VE GOT A LOT TO SAY ABOUT THIS. IT ISN'T JUST THOSE OF US IN WASHINGTON THAT HAD A LOT TO SAY ABOUT IT. REMEMBER, ONLY 18 -- MAYBE 20 PERCENT OF OUR GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT GOES THROUGH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE OTHER 80 PERCENT YOU CONTROL. AND THE EXTENT TO WHICH YOU AS CONSUMER AS KING, YOU OUGHT TO EXERCISE SOME DISCIPLINE, SAVE MORE, SO WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE CHINESE. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN -- SINCE 1930S, WE HAD NEGATIVE SAVINGS IN THIS COUNTRY LAST YEAR. WE CAN'T TOLERATE THAT. PEOPLE HAVE TO START LIVING -- LOOKING MORE TO THE FUTURE, NOT LIVING JUST FOR TODAY, AND HAVE MORE PRIVATE SAVINGS.

Beck: SENATOR --

Yepsen: GO AHEAD.

Beck: I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY THAT MESSAGE THAT YOU'RE DELIVERING, AND YOU'VE DELIVERED THAT IN THE PAST, THAT YOU WOULD LIKE PEOPLE TO SAVE MORE SEEMS TO BE CONTRARY SOMETIMES TO WHAT WE HEAR OUT OF WASHINGTON. WHEN THE ECONOMY STARTS TO LOOK SLUGGISH, EVEN THE PRESIDENT AFTER 9/11 SAID GO SPEND AND PEOPLE ARE TOLD, YOU KNOW, PROP IT UP, GO BUY, GO BUY AT THE HOLIDAY SEASON. SO YOU'RE DELIVERING A DIFFERENT MESSAGE.

Grassley: YEAH, IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT 9/11, THOUGH, YOU'VE GOT TO REMEMBER, THAT WAS A VERY UNUSUAL SITUATION. PROBABLY THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1941 WE HAD TO WORRY ABOUT PEOPLE MAYBE WONDERING WHERE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP WAS AND WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO THE ECONOMY. AND SO THE PRESIDENT WANTED PEOPLE NOT TO LIVE A LIFE OF FEAR. YOU HAVE TO LIVE A LIFE OF CONCERN ABOUT TERRORISTS KILLING AMERICANS BECAUSE THEY'RE ATTEMPTING TO DO IT EVERY DAY. BUT I DON'T THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO -- YOU DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN FEAR SO IT SHUTS DOWN THE ECONOMY. THE PRESIDENT WANTED THE ECONOMY TO GROW, AND THAT'S WHY HE GAVE THAT ADVICE. NOW, THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE DON'T HAVE APPROPRIATION BILLS DONE BECAUSE THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ONLY PASSED ONE APPROPRIATION BILL AND THEY'RE IN THE MAJORITY AND THEY'RE RESPONSIBLE, YOU KNOW, THAT DOESN'T SET A VERY GOOD EXAMPLE. THE EXTENT TO WHICH THEY WANT TO SPEND $23 BILLION MORE THAN IS IN THE BUDGET AND THAT CAN ADD UP OVER TEN YEARS TO $305 BILLION OF ADDITIONAL SPENDING, YOU KNOW, DOESN'T SET A VERY GOOD EXAMPLE, BUT I WANT TO SAY I'M NOT SURE THAT WE REPUBLICANS SET AS GOOD OF AN EXAMPLE AS WE SHOULD HAVE WHEN WE WERE IN THE MAJORITY.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE GOT QUITE A LONG LIST OF THINGS THAT YOU'RE INVOLVED WITH IN WASHINGTON THAT ARE GOING ON IN WASHINGTON WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT WITH YOU TODAY.

Grassley: YOU WANT ME TO SHORTEN MY ANSWERS.

Yepsen: NO, NO. I'M JUST SETTING YOU UP FOR THE FACT THAT WE'RE GOING TO GO THROUGH A LOT OF SUBJECTS HERE.

Grassley: OKAY.

Yepsen: THE FIRST IS YOUR CURRENT EFFORT TO EXAMINE THE CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES OF TELEVISION MINISTRIES. WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? WHAT ARE YOU FINDING OUT?

Grassley: WELL, YOU KNOW, FIVE YEARS AGO WHEN WE STARTED HEARING COMPLAINTS FROM IOWANS THAT IT CONTRIBUTED TO THE 9/11 PHILANTHROPIC ORGANIZATION FOR HELPING THE PEOPLE HURT BY 9/11 AND THE MONEY WASN'T BEING SPENT AND GO THROUGH THE RED CROSS AND KATRINA, GO THROUGH THE SMITHSONEAN INSTITUTE, NATURE CONSERVANCY, SELF-DEALING AMONG THEIR OWN CONTRIBUTORS AS A NONPROFIT. SO I'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN A LOT OF NONPROFIT INVESTIGATIONS OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS, AND SO YOUR QUESTION WHY, WELL, THE SAME ANSWER AS OTHER NONPROFITS. YOU GET INFORMATION FROM WITHIN ORGANIZATIONS THAT RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT TAX LAW BEING ABIDED BY OR THE ORGANIZATIONS BEING A GOOD TRUSTEE OF THE CONTRIBUTORS' MONEY, ALL NECESSARY FOR NONPROFITS TO DO AND FOR THE CREDIBILITY OF THE TAX LAW. SO WE GOT INFORMATION AND EVENTUALLY I SENT LETTERS TO SIX -- IT COULD HAVE BEEN FIVE. IT COULD HAVE BEEN SEVEN. IT MIGHT BE MORE. THE BOTTOM LINE OF IT IS THAT WE WANT THEM TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. IT'S AN INVESTIGATION ONLY IN THE SENSE THAT WE RECEIVED A LOT OF DISTURBING INFORMATION AND WE'RE TRYING TO LET THESE ORGANIZATIONS ANSWER QUESTIONS FOR THEMSELVES.

Yepsen: DO YOU KNOW YET, SENATOR, IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE ASKING FOR CHANGES IN FEDERAL LAWS AS A RESULT OF THIS?

Grassley: I NEVER HAVE -- ONLY IN THE LITTLE AREAS IN THE PAST THAT WE'VE HAD TO. MOST OF THIS HAS BEEN SELF-CORRECTING. IN OTHER WORDS, WE POINT THINGS OUT TO THIS ORGANIZATION. THE SMITHSONEAN BOARD FIRES THE SUPERINTENDENT. RED CROSS COMES IN AND APOLOGIZES AND SAYS WE KNOW THING AREN'T GOING RIGHT, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE CHANGES. IN SIX MONTHS THEY HAD CHANGES. IN THAT CASE WE DID HAVE TO PASS LAW BECAUSE THEIR BOARD IS MADE UP UNDER LAW OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. SO THEY REDUCE THEIR BOARD FROM 50 DOWN TO 20, SO THE BOARD GOVERNS IN MOST OF THESE INSTANCES AND MAYBE EVEN IN THE CASE OF THE MINISTRIES. IT'S A CASE IS THE BOARD DOING THEIR ARM'S LENGTH INDEPENDENT RUNNING OF THE ORGANIZATION OR ARE THEY LETTING THE PAID PEOPLE RUN THE ORGANIZATION. TOO OFTEN YOU SEE THE PAID PEOPLE RUN THE ORGANIZATION.

Borg: I MENTIONED GRIDLOCK AS I OPENED THIS PROGRAM. IT SEEMS THAT GRIDLOCK, AM I CORRECT, IS AFFECTING THE REAUTHORIZATION OF THE FARM BILL?

Grassley: YES, BUT THIS IS A CASE OF WHERE IT'S DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN -- I KNOW YOU UNDERSTAND -- BUT TO THE PUBLIC AT LARGE THAT THE SENATE IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE MINORITY POINTS OF VIEW ARE PROTECTED. SO WHEN THE DEMOCRATS WERE IN THE MINORITY, THEY WOULD SOMETIMES DO THIS. REPUBLICANS ARE IN THE MINORITY NOW, BECAUSE IN THE PAST DEMOCRATS WANTED TO OFFER AMENDMENTS THAT MAYBE REPUBLICANS DIDN'T WANT --

Borg: WHAT ARE YOU PROTECTING AS A REPUBLICAN? YOU SEEM TO INTIMATE THAT YOU'RE BLOCKING REORGANIZATION BECAUSE YOU HAVE A POINT TO MAKE.

Grassley: OKAY, THE POINT IS WE'VE GOT AMENDMENTS WE WANT OFFERED AND THE DEMOCRATS DON'T WANT US TO OFFER SOME OF OUR AMENDMENTS. THEY PUT IN PLACE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS THAT MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR REPUBLICANS TO OFFER AMENDMENTS UNLESS YOU GET UNANIMOUS CONSENT. SO ANY ONE SENATOR CAN OBJECT SO YOU CAN'T OFFER YOUR AMENDMENTS. SO WHAT WILL HAPPEN HERE IS SENATOR REID, MAJORITY LEADER, SENATOR MCCONNELL, THE REPUBLICAN LEADER, HAVE TO GET TOGETHER. AND WHEN THEY GET TOGETHER ON A GROUP OF AMENDMENTS THAT CAN BE OFFERED -- AND THIS IS A NEGOTIATED PROCESS -- WE MOVE AHEAD. AND I'LL BET YOU ON DECEMBER 4 WE'LL BE MOVING AHEAD ON THE FARM BILL.

Borg: AND WILL IOWA FARMERS BE NEGATIVELY AFFECTED IN THIS --

Grassley: ABSOLUTELY NOT. NO, IT'S GOT MORE TO DO WITH THE ABILITY OF NONGERMANE AMENDMENTS -- OR RELEVANT AMENDMENTS BEING OFFERED, AND SOMETIMES NOT DIRECTLY DEALING WITH THE FARM BILL.

Beck: WILL IT HAVE AN IMPACT ON ETHANOL? YOU'VE SEEN THAT THAT'S AN IMPORTANT COMMODITY HERE IN IOWA OBVIOUSLY. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT MAYBE MANDATING FOR STATES THAT HAVE POLLUTION PROBLEMS. WHERE ARE WE AT ON THAT?

Grassley: WELL, WHERE ARE WE? SEVERAL DIFFERENT FIELDS PLAYING ON, FIRST OF ALL, THE DEBATE THAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT WON'T EFFECT ETHANOL. PASSING THE FARM BILL WILL HELP ETHANOL BECAUSE THERE'S A GREAT DEAL OF INCENTIVE IN THERE FOR MOVING TO THE NEXT PHASE OF STOCK FOR ETHANOL -- CELLULOSIC ETHANOL. WE HAVE -- WE WANT TO CHANGE THE RENEWABLE FUELS STANDARD, MOVE FROM THE 7.5-BILLION-GALLON MANDATE, WHICH WE'RE GOING TO REACH THREE YEARS AHEAD OF TIME NOW, TO A 35-BILLION-GALLON MANDATE BY 2022. AND THEN WE'RE WORKING -- I'M TAKING A LEAD AND CONTACTING THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHEAST OF THE UNITED STATES, WHERE THEY DON'T MARKET ETHANOL, BECAUSE THEIR BOUTIQUE MIXTURE OF GASOLINE THROUGH STATE REGULATION DON'T ALLOW IT. WE WANT TO CHANGE THAT SO WE CAN MARKET DOWN THERE. AND THEN WE HAVE LEGISLATION THAT'S BEFORE THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE THAT WOULD INCREASE THE ETHANOL TAX CREDIT BY -- NOT INCREASE IT, EXTEND IT. IT SUNSETS. BIODIESEL AS WELL. WIND ENERGY, BIOMASS, AND ALL OF THE ABOVE, THERE'S SEVERAL TAX CREDITS. NOT TAX CREDITS JUST FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, ALSO TAX CREDITS FOR THE CONSERVATION OF ENERGY, WHICH IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. AND WE TEND TO FINANCE IT BY TAKING MONEY AWAY FROM TAX INCENTIVES THAT OIL COMPANIES HAVE HAD FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME BECAUSE THEY NEEDED THEM TO GET PETROLEUM OUT OF THE GROUND. WE'RE GOING TO MOVE THAT NOW TO INCENTIVES FOR ALTERNATIVES, BECAUSE THE OIL COMPANIES AS A MATURE INDUSTRY, AS OPPOSED TO THE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY THAT ARE NOT MATURE INDUSTRIES.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO TURN TO THE FUNDING FOR THE WAR IN IRAQ. CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT ARE AT LOGGERHEADS. HOW WILL THAT GET RESOLVED?

Grassley: WELL, I'LL TELL YOU HOW THEY'RE ATTEMPTING TO RESOLVE IT. WHEN I SAY 'THEY,' I'M TALKING ABOUT THE DEMOCRAT MAJORITY BECAUSE THEY CONTROL THE COMMITTEES, THEY CONTROL THE AGENDA ON THE FLOOR. AND IT'S NOT AN ATTEMPT TO BLAME. IT'S AN ATTEMPT TO TELL YOU AND TO TELL THE PUBLIC THAT I DISAGREE WITH HOW THEY'RE DOING IT. THEY WANT TO TIE IT, FOR INSTANCE, TO A VETERANS PROGRAM SO THAT THEY CAN GET A LOT OF THEIR SPENDING DONE THAT WOULDN'T OTHERWISE BE DONE WITH THE CURBS PUT ON IT. SO THEY'RE USING VETERANS AS A PAWN FOR THEIR IDEA OF HOW THE WAR IN IRAQ OUGHT TO BE FOUGHT. BUT THE POINT IT THAT -- THEY HAVE THAT THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY -- THE SOLDIERS SERVING OVERSEAS SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY DOUBT IN OUR MIND THAT WE'RE GOING TO GIVE THEM THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO GET THE JOB DONE. AND RIGHT NOW THE HOUSE HAS PASSED A BILL THAT CAN'T GET THROUGH THE SENATE, AND THEY KNEW THAT WHEN THEY PASSED IT, THAT WOULD PUT A LOT RESTRICTIONS ON HOW THE MONEY WAS USED THAT WE JUST CAN'T ACCEPT, BECAUSE WHEN YOU GO TO WAR, YOU SHOULDN'T GO TO WAR UNLESS YOU GO TO WAR TO WIN. IF YOU MAKE THE DECISION TO GO TO WAR, YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE THE PEOPLE TO TOOLS TO FIGHT IT. AND THE WAR IS THE WAR ON TERROR. IRAQ IT PART OF IT. AFGHANISTAN IS PART OF IT. A LITTLE BIT IN SOMALIA. A LITTLE BIT IN PHILIPPINES BUT MOST OF IT IS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

Yepsen: SENATOR, HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE BEFORE OUR TROOPS CAN START TO COME HOME?

Grassley: DECEMBER THERE'S GOING TO BE A FEW COME HOME. BY MARCH AND INTO APRIL, ALL OF THE SURGE WILL BE HOME. AND THEN IF WE FOLLOW WHAT THE PREMIERE OF IRAQ SAID HE WANTS DONE -- BY THE END OF NEXT YEAR, HE WANTS LESS THAN 100,000 TROOPS THERE. WE HOPE THAT THERE WILL BE LESS THAN 100,000 TROOPS THERE. THERE MAY BE SOME TROOPS THERE OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, BUT ONLY IF IRAQ WANTS IT. AND I CAN ONLY TELL YOU THAT IT'S UNPREDICTABLE HOW LONG TROOPS HAVE TO STAY, BECAUSE I CAN TAKE YOU BACK TO DEBATES AND STATEMENTS THAT WERE MADE IN THE '96 ELECTION THAT WE WOULD BE IN KOSOVO AND BOSNIA FOR MAYBE ONE MORE YEAR. AND JUST AS SOON AS THE ELECTION WAS OVER, GORE GIVES A SPEECH AND SAYS, WELL, THEY'LL PROBABLY BE THERE A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME. THEY'RE STILL THERE SO IT'S UNPREDICTABLE EXACTLY, IN A WAR ENVIRONMENT. AND WHEN THERE'S CONFLICT AND WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE PART OF PROTECTING AMERICANS AND RESOLVING CONFLICTS, THEN, YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES IT'S UNPREDICTABLE. SO I'M TELLING YOU WHAT THE SITUATION IS NOW. LESS THAN A HUNDRED THOUSAND TROOPS THERE BY THE END OF NEXT YEAR.

Beck: EARLIER YOU REFERENCED THAT DEMOCRATS WANT TO SPEND TOO MUCH MONEY, BUT ONE AREA YOU AGREED WITH THEM ON WAS FUNDING FOR A CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM THAT IS STATE RUN. AND YOU WANTED MORE MONEY THAN MANY OF YOUR REPUBLICAN COUNTERPARTS AND ACTUALLY TOOK SOME HEAT FOR THAT HERE IN IOWA AND CALLED INTO QUESTION YOUR CONSERVATIVE CREDENTIALS. BUT WHY DID YOU THINK THAT WAS IMPORTANT AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON THAT?

Grassley: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, YOU START OUT AS A REPUBLICAN AND TAKING THE PRESIDENT AT HIS WORD. WHEN HE ACCEPTS THE SECOND NOMINATION IN NEW YORK IN 2004, HE SAID HE WANTED TO GET MORE CHILDREN COVERED BY GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS -- I MEAN BY THE S-CHIP PROGRAM AND BY THE MEDICAID PROGRAM SO MORE CHILDREN BE COVERED. OKAY, WE HAVE 'X' NUMBER OF KIDS ON THE CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM RIGHT NOW. HE WANTS TO COVER MORE. HE PUTS FIVE BILLION DOLLARS MORE IN HIS BUDGET. FIVE BILLION DOLLARS WON'T KEEP THE PROGRAM GOING THE WAY IT IS NOW. THIS HAS BEEN A PROGRAM THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR TEN YEARS. IT'S WORKING. PEOPLE LIKE IT. I'VE NEVER HEARD ANY BAD-MOUTHING ABOUT IT OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS UNTIL YOU GET TO REAUTHORIZING IT, AND THEN EVERYTHING COMES OUT, EVERYTHING THAT'S BAD ABOUT IT: THREE STATES HAVE MORE ADULTS ON THAN KIDS ON; SO THAT'S BAD AND WE OUGHT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. TOO HIGH OF A POVERTY RATE IN SOME STATES LETTING PEOPLE IN, SO REDUCE IT DOWN TO 200 PERCENT. YOU TRY TO CORRECT ALL THIS STUFF, BUT YOU CAN'T DO WHAT THE PRESIDENT WANTS TO DO FOR FIVE BILLION. IT TAKES ABOUT 24 BILLION JUST TO DO WHAT HE WANTS. THE DEMOCRATS WANTED TO SPEND 50 BILLION. SO WHEN I NEGOTIATE A DEAL WITH THE DEMOCRAT LEADERS AT 35 BILLION, I FIGURE I'M SAVING 15 BILLION, MAYBE DOING A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN WHAT WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW, BUT DOING WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID HE WANTED TO DO IN HIS SPEECH IN 2004. SO YOU COME UP WITH A BIPARTISAN COMPROMISE AND TO CORRECT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ARE WRONG COMPROMISE THE PROGRAM AS ITS DEVELOPED OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS. AND WE'RE KIND AT A STAND STILL BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT VETOES IT, I TALK TO HIM, I TRY TO EXPLAIN TO HIM WHAT THE SITUATION WAS AND, YOU KNOW, HE STILL VETOES IT. SO I'M WORKING WITH THE REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO GET ENOUGH VOTES TO EITHER GET A BILL PASSED THAT THE PRESIDENT CAN SIGN OR GET A BILL PASSED THAT WE CAN OVERRIDE ANOTHER VETO.

Borg: DO YOU THINK THE PRESIDENT CUT THE LEGS OUT FROM UNDER YOU, BECAUSE YOU NEGOTIATED THE COMPROMISE AND IT STILL WAS REJECTED?

Grassley: THE ANSWER IS YES BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY AND MORE SPECIFICALLY, HE MOVES THE GOAL POSTS BECAUSE IN HIS FIRST VETO IT WAS ALL EMPHASIS UPON WE'RE GOING TO ALLOW KIDS OVER 400 PERCENT OF POVERTY, 81 PERCENT TO GET IN. YOU KNOW, THAT WAS IN HIS VETO MESSAGE. YOU KNOW, THAT'S BEEN IN THE LAW FOR TEN YEARS. IT WASN'T IN OUR BILL AND THAT COULD ONLY HAPPEN IF THE PRESIDENT WOULD APPROVE OF IT AND HE USES IT AS A REASON FOR VETOING. WE CORRECT THAT. EVEN SPEAKER PELOSI, THE LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATS, IN OUR FIRST MEETING TRYING TO REACH A COMPROMISE, SHE SAYS WE'LL HAVE A HARD CAP AT 300 PERCENT. SO THEN WHERE DOES THE GOAL POSTS GO? THEY GO TO THE FACT THAT HE DOESN'T LIKE THE CIGARETTE TAX. WELL, MAYBE I DON'T LIKE THE CIGARETTE TAX, BUT THE CIGARETTE TAX HAS ALWAYS BEEN CONNECTED WITH THE CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM, SO WE INCREASE IT. AND HE SAYS HE DOESN'T LIKE IT. DID YOU KNOW THAT IN THE DEBATE IN CONGRESS, EXCEPT FOR A FEW SENATORS FROM TOBACCO STATES, NOTHING HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT THE TOBACCO TAX. IT'S ACCEPTED. IT'S NOT IN DISPUTE. WHY IS IT IN DISPUTE WITH THE PRESIDENT? JUST LIKE A LOT OF THESE OTHER THINGS. THIS 35 BILLION THAT SOME REPUBLICANS ARE OBJECTING TO AND THE WHITE HOUSE MIGHT BE OBJECTING TO BY THE REPUBLICANS THAT WANT TO REACH A COMPROMISE WITH US TO OVERRIDE THE PRESIDENTIAL VETO, THAT IT'S NOT EVEN ON THE TABLE. IT'S UNDISPUTED. THAT $35 BILLION IT A BIPARTISAN COMPROMISE AND IT'S UNDISPUTED THAT WE OUGHT TO BE COVERING TEN MILLION KIDS, IN OTHER WORDS REACHING THE PRESIDENT'S GOALS THAT HE SENATE NEW YORK.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ANOTHER ISSUE IN FRONT OF THE CONGRESS IS REAUTHORIZATION OF NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, AN EDUCATION REFORM BILL, REFORMING EDUCATION. IT'S BEEN VERY CONTROVERSIAL IN OUR SCHOOLS, AS YOU KNOW. WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THAT?

Grassley: WELL, I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE DONE BY THIS YEAR IT. IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE IT'S GOING TO TO BE DONE BY THIS YEAR, AND I CAN'T EVEN PREDICT IF IT'S GOING TO BE DONE NEXT YEAR BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT THE PRESIDENT WHO, IN JANUARY, MET WITH SENATOR KENNEDY. THERE WAS A COMMITMENT AT THAT TIME BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM TO GET TOGETHER. BUT THERE'S BEEN SOME LIBERALS THAT HAVE VERY DRAMATICALLY WANTED TO CHANGE IT AND SOME CONSERVATIVES -- AND I'M PART OF THEM -- THAT WANT TO GO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL INTENT AS THE PRESIDENT SUGGESTED IN 2001, TO GIVE THE STATE SOME MORE LEEWAY. IT'S KIND OF IN ADVANCE RIGHT NOW.

Borg: WE'RE TALKING ABOUT KIDS. LET'S TALK ABOUT TOYS FOR KIDS. PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE BUYING TOYS THIS WEEKEND. ARE THEY SAFE? WHAT IS CONGRESS DOING TO MAKE SURE THAT TOYS COMING OUT OF CHINA ARE NOT HARMFUL TO OUR CHILDREN?

Grassley: WE'RE GOING TO REAUTHORIZE AND EXPAND THE JURISDICTION OF THE CONSUMERS PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION. THERE'S A LITTLE DISPUTE BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND SENATE ON IT, BUT I BELIEVE WE'LL GET TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. IT WON'T BE PASSED BY CHRISTMAS, BUT RIGHT NOW WE'RE TAKING -- THE ADMINISTRATION IS EVEN TAKING A LEAD ON BEEFING UP SECURITY, AS WELL AS THE SAFETY ASPECTS OF ANYTHING THAT'S COMING INTO THE COUNTRY. WE HAVE NOT DONE A GOOD ENOUGH JOB AT THE BORDERS BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY AND THE PLACE TO EMPHASIZE IS, MORE EMPHASIS UPON COMPANIES MAKING SURE -- THAT ARE DOING BUSINESS OVERSEAS, IMPORTING THINGS, ARE MAKING SURE THAT SAFETY IS DONE OVERSEAS IN THE PRODUCTS THEY PUT TOGETHER. AND I THINK YOU GET THAT BY ONE OF OUR COMPANIES APOLOGIZING TO CHINA. ORIGINALLY CHINA WAS BLAMED AND THEY REALIZED THEY WERE SOMEWHAT AT FAULT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ANOTHER ISSUE YOU WORKED A LOT ON IS THE ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX AND HOW THAT'S STARTING TO TAX MORE AND MORE MIDDLE INCOME TAXPAYERS. WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THAT?

Grassley: WELL, THE STATUS IS A LOT WORSE THAN IT WAS WHEN I WAS CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE. AND I DON'T BLAME SENATOR BAUCUS FOR THIS, BECAUSE HE'S BEEN WORKING OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, BUT THINGS IN THIS CONGRESS ARE JUST MOVING SLOWER THAN THEY SHOULD. IF YOU REALIZE WHEN I WAS CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FROM THE YEARS 2001 THROUGH 2006, WE ALWAYS -- THE FIRST TIME WE DIDN'T HAVE IT AS AN ISSUE FOR FOUR YEARS BECAUSE WE DID A PATCH FOR FOUR YEARS AND WE FIXED IT IN 2005 AND 2006. A YEAR AGO NOW -- THIS WAS DONE BY MAY. NOW IT'S BEING DONE SO LATE THAT 25 MILLION PEOPLE ARE IN JEOPARDY OF GETTING THEIR REFUNDS ON TIME. AND IF WE DON'T DO ANYTHING, ANOTHER 19 TO 22 MILLION PEOPLE WILL BE PAYING THE ALTERATIVE MINIMUM TAX. SO I THINK WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO IS HELP THE DEMOCRATS AVOID THEIR PAYGO REQUIREMENTS WHERE THIS HAS TO BE OFFSET, BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH OFFSETS TO DO EVERYTHING THAT THEY WANT TO DO OR HAS TO BE DONE. SO I'M INTENDING TO HELP THEM GET 60 VOTES TO OVERRIDE THE POINT OF ORDER SO PAYGO CAN BE ABOLISHED BECAUSE WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO MEET PAYGO ON THIS ISSUE ANYWAY BECAUSE, YOU SEE, WHEN THIS STARTED IN 1969, WE WERE ONLY INTENDING TO HIT THE SUPER RICH ON IT, AND NOW IT'S HITTING MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA. AND WE'RE COUNTING THIS REVENUE THAT'S PHANTOM REVENUE THAT YOU NEVER INTENDED TO TAX IN THE FIRST PLACE, SO YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TO OFFSET IT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT A FEW MINUTES LEFT AND WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT POLITICS AS WE ALWAYS DO IN THIS PROGRAM. GIVE US YOUR ASSESSMENT, IF YOU WOULD, QUICKLY, OF THE BUSH PRESIDENCY.

Grassley: IT'S BEEN WAYLAID BY THE WAR IN IRAQ, THE WAR ON TERROR. HE'S BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN DOING WHAT THE NUMBER ONE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF IS, TO PROTECT YOU. WE HAVE NOT HAD TERRORIST ATTACKS DOMESTICALLY WHERE THE FBI AND THE CIA HAS BEEN DOING A VERY GOOD JOB OF MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVEN'T BEEN ATTACKED. WE'VE PREEMPTED THREE OR FOUR ATTACKS JUST WITHIN THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS. WE'VE GOT AL QAEDA CELLS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. I THINK WE'RE WATCHING THEM, SO I THINK HE'S DOING A VERY GOOD JOB IN THE INSTANCE OF NATIONAL SECURITY. IN THE AREA OF TAX CUTS, I HELPED SHEPHERD IT THROUGH, THE LARGEST TAX CUT IN THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY, BECAUSE HE BELIEVES THAT MONEY IN YOUR POCKET IT GOING TO DO MORE ECONOMIC GOOD. WE'VE CREATED 8 2/10 MILLION JOBS. THAT OUGHT TO BE GOOD NEWS FOR AMERICA.

Beck: DESPITE THAT, HIS APPROVAL RATINGS AREN'T VERY GOOD. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR REPUBLICANS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT NOW?

Grassley: I THINK WHAT THAT MEANS IS AFTER FEBRUARY 5, WHICH IS PROBABLY WHEN WE'RE GOING TO KNOW THE NOMINEES OF BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES, PRESIDENT BUSH IT NOT AN ISSUE. THE ISSUE IS WHO'S GOING TO BE THE NEXT BEST PRESIDENT. AND REPUBLICANS WILL HAVE A VERY GOOD CHANCE OF KEEPING THE PRESIDENCY IF -- IF THE ISSUE IS ON THE FUTURE. AND WE INTEND TO MAKE THIS AN ISSUE OF THE FUTURE. THE PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT THE PAST. THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE GOVERNMENT -- WHAT OUR LEADERSHIP IS GOING TO DO BOTH ON NATIONAL DEFENSE AND ON DOMESTIC ISSUES IN THE NEXT ELECTION.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE GOT LESS THAN A MINUTE LEFT. GIVE ME A QUICK ASSESSMENT OF THE REPUBLICAN FIELD. YOU'VE DECIDED NOT TO ENDORSE ANYBODY IN YOUR PARTY FOR PRESIDENT.

Grassley: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: IF THE CAUCUSES WERE HELD TODAY, WHAT'S THE 1, 2, 3, RANK ORDER OF FINISHERS?

Grassley: ROMNEY, HUCKABEE, GIULIANI.

Yepsen: WHY DO YOU SAY THAT?

Grassley: WELL, I SAY THAT BECAUSE, WELL, FIRST OF ALL, ROMNEY HAS GOT A STATE-TO-STATE PLAN TO DO WELL IN IOWA. HE'S PUT MONEY, PUT RESOURCES IN ORGANIZATIONS TO GET SOMETHING DONE. HUCKABEE SECOND BECAUSE HE IS -- HE RELATES VERY MUCH TO IOWANS. HE'S KIND OF LIKE IOWANS ARE. GIULIANI BECAUSE HE'S WAKING UP AND DECIDES HE'S GOT TO DO THIRD IN IOWA IF HE'S GOING TO HAVE A NATIONAL CHANCE.

Yepsen: VERY QUICKLY. WHAT HAPPENED TO FRED THOMPSON?

Grassley: WHAT HAPPENED TO FRED THOMPSON? HE GOT IN TOO LATE.

Yepsen: AND JOHN MCCAIN?

Grassley: HE SPENT HIS MONEY TOO FAST.

Borg: IT'S ALL A MATTER OF TIMING, ISN'T IT.

Grassley: YEAH, IT IS A MATTER OF TIMING.

Borg: AND WE'RE OUT OF IT RIGHT HERE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BEING OUR GUEST TODAY. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE CAUCUSES, AS WE'VE JUST BEEN TALKING ABOUT NEARING, WE'LL BE QUESTIONING ANOTHER CANDIDATE, DELAWARE'S JOE BIDEN, WHO CHAIRS THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND IS CAMPAIGNING FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION. HE'LL BE HERE WITH US, AND I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. AND A NOTE TOO THAT 'IOWA PRESS' NEXT WEEK WITH SENATOR BIDEN WILL AIR ONLY AT 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT. NO SUNDAY MORNING REBROADCAST NEXT WEEK. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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Tags: Iowa politics