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Iowa Press #2805 - Rep. Tom Latham and Mike Palecek
October 1, 2000

Borg: THE CAMPAIGN TO REPRESENT NORTHWEST IOWA'S FIFTH U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT MATCHES INCUMBENT REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE TOM LATHAM OF ALEXANDER AGAINST DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER MIKE PALECEK OF SHELDON. WE'LL QUESTION THEM ON THIS EDITION OF IOWA PRESS.

FUNDING FOR IOWA PRESS HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY: FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY... THE VOICE OF IOWA BUSINESS, REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF OVER 1,500 IOWA BUSINESSES EMPLOYING 300,000 IOWANS.

THIS IS THE SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1ST EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THE NOVEMBER 7th GENERAL ELECTION PUTS ALL FIVE OF IOWA'S INCUMBENTS IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON THE BALLOT, AND TODAY WE BEGIN THE FIRST OF FIVE CONSECUTIVE EDITIONS OF IOWA PRESS EXAMINING THE CAMPAIGNS TO REPRESENT IOWA IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. IOWA, OF COURSE, HAS SEVEN MEMBERS IN ITS CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION: THAT'S TWO SENATORS AND THEN THE FIVE REPRESENTATIVES. IN NORTHWEST IOWA'S FIFTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN TOM LATHAM OF ALEXANDER IS SEEKING HIS FOURTH TWO-YEAR TERM IN THE U.S. HOUSE. HIS DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER IS A FORMER TEACHER AND WRITER, MIKE PALECEK OF SHELDON. HE'S SEEKING PUBLIC OFFICE FOR THE FIRST TIME. GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO IOWA PRESS.

Palecek: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Latham: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE, POLITICAL REPORTERS DAVID YEPSEN OF THE DES MOINES REGISTER AND JENEANE BECK OF KUNI PUBLIC RADIO.

Beck: GENTLEMEN, WE'RE GOING TO START WITH GIVING YOU A LITTLE FREE AD TIME HERE. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AND WHY ARE YOU BETTER THAN THE OTHER GUY? AND, MR. PALECEK, WE'LL START WITH YOU.

Palecek: WELL, I NEED TO BE IN CONGRESS BECAUSE I'M FOR THE POOR, I'M FOR THE IMMIGRANTS, I'M FOR THE PRISONER, I'M FOR THE SINGLE MOTHER, I'M FOR THE POOR CHILD, THE FARMER. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, CONGRESSMAN LATHAM, INSTEAD, IS FOR THE CORPORATES: CORPORATE BUSINESS, CORPORATE AGRICULTURE, THE PRISON BUILDERS, THE DEFENSE CONTRACTORS. WE JUST DON'T NEED ANOTHER CORPORATE CLONE CONGRESSMAN LIKE TOM LATHAM. WE NEED SOMEONE LIKE ME IN OFFICE.

Beck: I'M GOING TO ASSUME YOU DISAGREE WITH THAT.

Latham: WELL, OBVIOUSLY, BUT THANK YOU FOR THE CHANCE TO BE HERE TODAY. I THINK I'M IN A POSITION -- I KNOW I AM -- ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO CONTINUE THE VERY IMPORTANT WORK THAT I'VE STARTED IN CONGRESS: FIGHTING THE WAR ON DRUGS; WE HAVE A HUGE MEDICARE PROBLEM AS FAR AS OUR RURAL HOSPITALS ARE CONCERNED; TRYING TO RETURN THE POWER OF EDUCATION BACK TO THE LOCAL LEVEL. AND I THINK HAVING THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT I DO, HAVING THE ABILITIES THAT I DO IN CONGRESS TO EFFECT CHANGE THERE, I THINK THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE DISTRICT. AND I LIVE ON A FARM. I'M A FARMER MYSELF. WE HAVE A FAMILY BUSINESS THAT RELIES ON AGRICULTURE. AND I WANT TO SEE AGRICULTURE GROW AND PROSPER. AND MY POSITION ON THE AG APPROPRIATION SUBCOMMITTEE, I THINK I CAN REALLY HELP FARMERS IN THE FUTURE.

Yepsen: GENTLEMEN, ONE OF THE ISSUES AFFECTING A LOT OF IOWANS ARE HIGH ENERGY PRICES, BOTH IN TERMS OF GASOLINE PRICES AND IN TERMS OF HIGH NATURAL GAS PRICES. CONGRESSMAN LATHAM, WHAT SHOULD THE NEXT CONGRESS DO TO LOWER ENERGY PRICES FOR IOWANS?

Latham: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE HAVE TO HAVE AN ENERGY POLICY. CURRENTLY WE HAVE NONE. I GUESS OUR POLICY IS WE GO TO OPEC WITH A TIN CUP TODAY AND BEG THEM TO GIVE US MORE OIL. WE HAVE TO, NUMBER ONE, I THINK AS FAR AS IT'S VERY IMPORTANT FOR IOWA, IS TO WORK ON RENEWABLE ENERGY: ETHANOL, SOY DIESEL, ALL TYPES OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT ARE OUT THERE. BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO USE THE RESOURCES WE HAVE HERE DOMESTICALLY. THERE IS NO REASON TODAY WHY WE NEED TO BE DEPENDENT -- OR NEARLY AS DEPENDENT AS WE ARE ON THE FOREIGN COUNTRIES. WE IMPORT TWICE AS MUCH OIL TODAY FROM OPEC AS WHAT WE DID BACK IN THE OIL CRISIS IN THE '70S. WE HAVE NO POLICY. WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY USE THE RESOURCES THAT WE HAVE HERE AND MAKE SURE THAT WE GET RID OF THIS DEPENDENCY THAT WE HAVE.

Yepsen: SHOULD WE OPEN THE ALASKA NATURAL WILDLIFE RESERVE?

Latham: WELL, THERE IS A WAY OF DOING IT VERY ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY TO GO AFTER THE RESOURCES THAT WE HAVE TO RELIEVE OUR DEPENDENCY ON FOREIGN OIL, AND DO IT IN A WAY THAT IS VERY SENSITIVE TO THE ENVIRONMENT.

Yepsen: MR. PALECEK, SAME QUESTION TO YOU. WHAT DO WE DO TO REDUCE HIGH ENERGY PRICES, AND SPECIFICALLY OPEN UP -- DO WE OPEN UP THE ANWAR?

Palecek: NO, I WOULD NOT SAY OPEN IT UP. I WOULD AGREE THAT WE NEED TO PURSUE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES. I THINK WE ALSO NEED TO FORCE THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY TO INCREASE THE MILES PER GALLON RATE. AND THEY HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO DO THAT, WE JUST HAVEN'T DONE THAT.

Yepsen: WON'T THAT AFFECT THE KINDS OF CARS THAT WE DRIVE AND TRACTORS THAT WE DRIVE?

Palecek: YES.

Yepsen: ISN'T THAT -- WHY IS THAT A GOOD THING?

Palecek: BECAUSE WE WON'T BE USING AS MUCH GAS. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. I DON'T KNOW WHY WE'RE NOT USING IT.

Borg: MR. PALECEK, IF ELECTED, YOU'LL BE REPRESENTING ONE OF IOWA'S MOST AGRICULTURALLY ORIENTED DISTRICTS, A BIG GRAIN FARMING AREA. HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE THE CURRENT LEGISLATION AFFECTING FARMING, AND THAT IS GRAIN PRODUCTION PRINCIPALLY? FREEDOM TO FARM IS WHAT WE KNOW IT BY.

Palecek: WELL, I'M NOT FROM A FARM SO I'VE BEEN TALKING TO A LOT OF FARMERS IN MY DISTRICT. WHAT THEY SAY IS THAT FREEDOM TO FARM HAS FAILED. IT HAS INCREASED PRODUCTION, WHICH LOWERS THE PRICE, WHICH IS A VERY SWEET DEAL FOR AGRIBUSINESS, AND IT HAS HURT THE SMALL FARMER. I JUST THINK WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP OUT THE SMALL FARMER AGAINST THE LARGE AGRIBUSINESS. WHAT WE'RE MOVING TOWARDS IS A SERFDOM. OUR FAMILY FARMERS ARE BECOMING FRANCHISE OPERATORS FOR McHOG AND McBEAN. WE NEED TO -- FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED TO HAVE THE INTENT TO SAVE THE FAMILY FARM. WE HAVE TO TAKE A STAND FOR THE FAMILY FARM AGAINST, I GUESS, AGAINST GIANT AGRIBUSINESS.

Borg: CONGRESSMAN LATHAM, WOULD YOU AGREE THAT NEW FARM LEGISLATION SHOULD HAVE MORE TEETH IN IT TO ENCOURAGE THE FAMILY AGAINST FARM -- AGAINST THE CORPORATE FARMING?

Latham: ABSOLUTELY. THERE WAS JUST A REPORT BY THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICE THAT CAME OUT LAST WEEK THAT SAID THAT USDA HAS NOT ANYWHERE CLOSE USED THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO THEM TO ENFORCE THE REGULATIONS FOR CORPORATE AGRICULTURE. AND I'VE BEEN AFTER JANET RENO, THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, YOU KNOW, FOR YEARS, TRYING TO GET THEM TO ACTUALLY USE THE LAWS AVAILABLE, AND IT'S EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING.

Borg: BUT IT WILL BE YOUR CHANCE NOW IN LEGISLATION IN THE NEXT CONGRESS TO EFFECT SOME CHANGE IN LAW. WHAT WOULD THAT BE?

Latham: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, DEAN, THE LAWS ARE ON THE BOOKS. WHAT THE REPORT SAYS IS THEY'RE SIMPLY NOT ENFORCING THE LAWS AS THEY ARE, SO UNLESS YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT ADMINISTRATION THAT'S ACTUALLY GOING TO ENFORCE THE LAWS, IT'S FUTILE TO PASS NEW LAWS IF THEY SIMPLY WON'T USE THE LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS TODAY. WE HAVE HAD OVER 20 HEARINGS -- THE AG COMMITTEE AND I'VE BEEN A PART OF THOSE -- TALKING ABOUT WHAT AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS SHOULD LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE. THE ONE AREA OF CONSENSUS, AND THE ONE AREA ONLY, IS THAT FARMERS WANT TO MAINTAIN THE FLEXIBILITY THAT THEY HAVE TO PLANT, TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR THEMSELVES. WE HAVE A PRICE CRISIS RIGHT NOW AS FAR AS CORN AND SOYBEANS. AND THE REASON FOR THAT IS THAT WE HAVE HAD AN UNPRECEDENTED FOUR YEARS OF WORLDWIDE OVERPRODUCTION. IN THE PAST THERE HAVE BEEN WEATHER SITUATIONS IN PARTS OF THE WORLD. BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, WE HAVE A WORLDWIDE SURPLUS AND SO IT IS GOING TO AFFECT PRICES. THAT'S VERY, VERY UNFORTUNATE BECAUSE AS A FARMER MYSELF, I WANT TO GET MY PROFIT FROM THE MARKETPLACE, NOT FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

Beck: BUT THE PROFIT RIGHT NOW IS COMING FROM THE GOVERNMENT. THERE WAS A STUDY THAT SAID OVER HALF OF FARMERS' INCOME HAS COME FROM THE GOVERNMENT IN THIS LAST YEAR. BUT THEN THEY ALSO SAY THAT MANY OF THOSE PAYMENTS GO TO LARGE PRODUCERS. DOES THERE NEED TO BE A SYSTEM WHERE THE PAYMENTS ARE GIVEN TO THE FAMILY PRODUCERS MORE? DOES SOMETHING NEED TO CHANGE THERE?

Latham: WELL, THERE ARE PAYMENT LIMITATIONS IN PLACE TODAY. WHAT THE PROBLEM IS -- OR THE PERCEPTION IS THAT THE CHECKS GO TO CHICAGO OR DES MOINES OR NEW YORK OR WHATEVER. THAT IS ONLY THE CASE IF THAT LANDOWNER IS ON A CROP-SHARE BASIS WITH THE TENANT AND IF THEY ARE ALSO SHARING IN THE RISK ON THAT FARM. IF IT'S JUST A RENTAL AGREEMENT, THEY DON'T GET THE CHECK, THE TENANT GETS THE CHECK. SO WE HAVE TO BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T INTERFERE WITH AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A YOUNG FARMER TO START UP TO DO ON A CROP-SHARE BASIS. IF WE CHANGE THE LAW SO THAT SOMEONE WHO IS NOT ACTUALLY ON THE FARM CAN'T PARTICIPATE IN THE RISK AND THE PAYMENTS, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE EVERYTHING GO TO A CASH-RENT BASIS AND WE'RE GOING TO LOSE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A LOT OF YOUNG FARMERS.

Yepsen: MR. PALECEK, ANOTHER ISSUE CONCERNING A LOT OF VOTERS THESE DAYS IS PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS, PARTICULARLY A LOT OF SENIOR CITIZENS. HOW WOULD YOU PROVIDE A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT FOR SENIOR CITIZENS?

Palecek: I WOULD MAKE IT A PART OF MEDICARE. BUT I WANT TO SAY THIS: I THINK PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND SOCIAL SECURITY ARE JUST TAKING UP -- YOU CAN ASK WHOEVER YOU WANT, BUT I THINK IT'S TAKING UP TOO MUCH OF THE DEBATE TIME. I THINK IT'S AN ISSUE. WE NEED HEALTH CARE, WE NEED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, BUT THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER THINGS. THERE ARE THE INCREASING GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR. THERE ARE PRISONS. THE MILITARY SPENDING. THOSE THINGS ARE NOT -- IMMIGRATION. THOSE THINGS ARE NOT BEING ADDRESSED BY EITHER MAJOR PARTY, GORE OR BUSH. AND I THINK THAT'S DISTRESSING.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN LATHAM, HOW WOULD YOU PROVIDE A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT?

Latham: WELL, I THINK WE NEED TO HELP PEOPLE WHO REALLY ARE IN NEED. I CAN'T SEE THE VERY, VERY WEALTHY -- THE NEED FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO COME IN AND GIVE THEM BENEFITS. WHAT WE CAN DO IS TARGET THE HELP TOWARDS THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY NEED IT. ONE THING THAT WE ARE DOING RIGHT NOW ON THE AG APPROPRIATIONS BILL, THERE IS A PART OF THAT BILL, BECAUSE WE FUND THE FDA, THAT WILL NOW ALLOW REIMPORTATION OF DRUGS MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES TO BE BROUGHT IN FROM CANADA AND MEXICO. AND THESE ARE DRUGS, AGAIN, THAT HAVE FDA APPROVAL. BUT THIS WILL CREATE SOME COMPETITION INSIDE THE UNITED STATES, SO THAT WILL BRING DOWN THE PRICES HERE, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. THIS IS A MAJOR EFFORT THAT I'M TRYING TO DO IN OUR AG APPROPRIATIONS BILL.

Yepsen: IS THAT GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAPPEN THIS SESSION BEFORE YOU GO HOME?

Latham: I BELIEVE IT WILL. YES, THERE WAS AN AGREEMENT REACHED LAST WEEK THAT WE'D BEEN FIGHTING FOR. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE THE SAFEGUARDS IN PLACE SO THAT WE'RE NOT REIMPORTING DRUGS THAT AREN'T APPROVED AND THAT ARE DANGEROUS, BUT CERTAINLY IT WILL ALLOW COMPETITION IN THE MARKETPLACE.

Beck: SPEAKING OF A DRUG THAT HAS RECENTLY RECEIVED FDA APPROVAL IS RU-486; IT'S THE ABORTION DRUG. THIS MAY OPEN UP THE ISSUE OF ABORTION AGAIN. SHOULD CONGRESS, ONE, TAKE ACTION TO BAN THAT DRUG? WOULD THAT BE SOMETHING YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO? AND SHOULD YOU WORK ON OTHER ABORTION ISSUES?

Latham: WELL, I'M PRO-LIFE. AND I THINK ANYTHING THAT MAKES IT EASIER FOR ABORTIONS IS -- TO ME IS MORALLY APPREHENSIVE. I DISAGREE WITH IT. AND IT'S AMAZING, I THINK, WITH THIS ADMINISTRATION WHO SAID THEY WANTED TO MAKE ABORTIONS MORE RARE AND HARDER TO GET ALL THE TIME NOW HAS BEEN PUSHING FOR EIGHT YEARS TRYING TO GET THIS APPROVED TO MAKE IT EASIER, AND WE'LL HAVE EVEN MORE ABORTIONS. I JUST THINK IT'S WRONG. THE DEBATE WILL GO ON. THE PRIMARY ISSUE IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS FUNDING FOR ABORTIONS. AND CERTAINLY, THAT IS SOMETHING I THINK WE PROBABLY AGREE ON, THAT IT'S WRONG.

Beck: MR. PALECEK?

Palecek: WE DO AGREE. WHATEVER HE SAID.

Beck: YOU'RE PRO-LIFE AS WELL?

Palecek: YES.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE CONCERNING A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THAT DISTRICT ARE FLOWS ON THE MISSOURI RIVER. MR. PALECEK, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT LEVELS OF FLOW ON THE MISSOURI RIVER?

Palecek: I HAVE NO IDEA. I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT.

Yepsen: YOU ARE ASKING TO BE A CONGRESSMAN FOR NORTHWEST IOWA, AND YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THE FLOWS ON THE MISSOURI RIVER? A LOT OF FARMERS SAY IT'S PRETTY IMPORTANT THAT THERE BE A DECENT FLOW MAINTAINED ON THAT RIVER IN ORDER TO SHIP BARGE TRAFFIC. A LOT OF ENVIRONMENTALISTS SAY THAT WOULD BE HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT ALONG THE RIVER. SO WHAT'S YOUR POSITION?

Palecek: I WOULD BE LYING IF I SAID THAT I HAD A POSITION, AND I DIDN'T SAY I DIDN'T CARE. I DO CARE ABOUT THINGS LIKE IMMIGRATION, ABOUT MILITARY SPENDING, ABOUT PRISON SPENDING, THAT YOU HAVEN'T ASKED ABOUT AND APPARENTLY YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT. NOW, YOU CAN TALK ABOUT THE FLOWS ON THE MISSOURI RIVER AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ALL YOU WANT –

Yepsen: WELL, THE MISSOURI RIVER, SIR, IS A BIG ISSUE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT.

[ SPEAKING AT ONCE ]

Yepsen: WE'RE TRYING TO ASK THE QUESTIONS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO PEOPLE IN THE DISTRICT.

Palecek: THAT'S GOOD.

Yepsen: IF YOU DON'T HAVE A POSITION, THAT'S FINE.

Palecek: AND THAT'S WHAT I WAS TRYING TO TELL YOU.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT. CONGRESSMAN LATHAM.

Latham: WELL, I'M OPPOSED TO THE NEW REGULATIONS THAT THEY WANT TO PUT IN PLACE. AND I SPOKE ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE JUST LAST THURSDAY ON THIS ISSUE. WHAT THEY WANT TO DO IS DRAMATICALLY INCREASE THE FLOW IN THE SPRINGTIME, WHICH IS GOING TO REALLY CAUSE TREMENDOUS PROBLEMS. OUR MEMORIES ARE VERY SHORT IF WE'VE FORGOTTEN 1993. IF THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN PLACE IN '93, WE WOULD HAVE HAD A DIRECT THREAT TO EVEN MORE LIVES AND PROPERTY THAN WHAT WE HAD IN '93 BECAUSE THEY CAN'T SHUT THE DAMS DOWN UP IN SOUTH DAKOTA IN TIME TO ABATE THAT FLOW. ALSO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO, THEN, IS TO MINIMIZE THE FLOW DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, WHICH WILL STOP NAVIGATION ON THE RIVER. AND IT IS EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT THAT WE MAINTAIN NAVIGATION AS FAR AS COMPETITION FOR THE RAILROADS -- THAT'S THE ONLY COMPETITION WE HAVE LEFT -- TO HAVE A LOWER PRICE AS FAR AS BRINGING FERTILIZER UP AND SHIPPING OUR GOODS DOWNSTREAM. AND IT ALSO IS GOING TO HAVE A DRAMATIC EFFECT ON THE POWER PRODUCTION ON THE DAMS UPSTREAM. AND THERE'S A LOT OF NORTHWEST IOWA THAT'S VERY DEPENDENT UPON A STABLE SUPPLY OF POWER FROM THOSE DAMS.

Borg: MR. PALECEK, WE WILL GET TO MILITARY SPENDING AND IMMIGRATION ALONG THE WAY, BUT I WANT TO GET ANOTHER ISSUE IN BEFORE WE GET TO THE THINGS LIKE THAT. UP IN NORTHWEST IOWA, A BIG GRAIN FARMING AREA, BUT ALSO BIG LIVESTOCK RAISING AREA. WHAT IS THE FEDERAL ROLE IN THE INCREASING CORPORATE RAISING OF LIVESTOCK AND HUGE LIVESTOCK LOTS?

Palecek: I THINK THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO TAKE STEPS TO DECREASE VERTICAL INTEGRATION. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT SMALL FARMERS DON'T HAVE TO COMPETE AGAINST STOCK PRODUCERS AND LARGE CORPORATE BUSINESS.

Borg: BUT HOW WOULD YOU GO ABOUT REGULATING THAT.

Palecek: I DON'T KNOW.

Borg: CONGRESSMAN LATHAM. THE QUESTION IS -- AND YOU ALREADY HAVE LARGE LIVESTOCK FEEDLOTS UP THERE -- ARE THERE TOO MANY? SHOULD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STEP IN AND POSE SOME TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS?

Latham: I THINK WE HAVE PLENTY, FIRST OF ALL. A YEAR AGO I WAS THE REASON THAT WE PASSED MANDATORY PRICE REPORTING SO THAT LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS WOULD FINALLY HAVE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN THE MARKETPLACE. NOW, IT'S TAKING THE USDA A LONG TIME TO GET THE RULES ENACTED. BUT I PUSHED THAT THROUGH LAST YEAR THROUGH THE AG APPROPRIATIONS BILL SO THAT THE PACKERS WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO REPORT THREE TIMES A DAY WHAT THEIR CONTRACTS ARE WITH PRODUCERS, WHAT THE PRICE IS BEING PAID, THAT THERE IS AGAIN CONFIDENCE IN THE MARKETPLACE. AND THIS IS SOMETHING FARMERS HAVE WANTED DONE FOR OVER 30 YEARS. AND BECAUSE OF MY WORK LAST YEAR, WE WERE ABLE TO GET THAT IN PLACE, AND I THINK THAT'S A HUGE STEP FORWARD, BUT IT REALLY IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. WE HAVE TO ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS. AND AGAIN, THE GAO REPORT THAT CAME OUT SAID THAT THE ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN SITTING BACK, NOT USING THE STATUTES THAT ARE IN PLACE TODAY, AND THAT'S VERY FRUSTRATING.

Beck: MR. PALECEK, YOU'VE BEEN FAIRLY FORTHCOMING ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE SERVED SOME FEDERAL PRISON TIME FOR PROTESTING AT MILITARY BASES. CAN YOU LEGALLY SERVE -- AFTER SERVING TIME IN PRISON, CAN YOU SERVE IN CONGRESS?

Palecek: YEAH, IT WAS A FEDERAL MISDEMEANOR.

Beck: SO YOU DIDN'T HAVE A FELONY?

Palecek: NO FELONIES.

Yepsen: ARE YOU A PACIFIST, MR. PALECEK?

Palecek: AT HEART, YES, I'M A CATHOLIC. I WAS A FORMER SEMINARIAN, YES.

Yepsen: HOW CAN YOU VOTE FOR MILITARY SPENDING IF YOU'RE A PACIFIST?

Palecek: THE WAY THINGS ARE NOW -- THAT'S A VERY GOOD QUESTION -- BUT THE WAY THINGS ARE NOW, THAT'S NOT EVEN A FAIR QUESTION. IT'S SO FAR TO THE OTHER SIDE OF IT. THE COLD WAR NEVER ENDED IN THE UNITED STATES. WHEN THE BERLIN WALL CAME DOWN, WE JUST -- I THINK SOME PEOPLE WERE SCRAMBLING TO FIND ENEMIES. AND WE STILL SPEND -- WE SPEND $310 BILLION ON THE MILITARY. WE'RE GOING TO BUILD THREE NEW FIGHTER SYSTEMS. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A PACIFIST TO KNOW THAT IS RIDICULOUS. WHILE WE DON'T HAVE HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, ELDERLY CARE, DAY CARE, THAT'S WHERE IT SHOULD BE GOING FOR. THAT IS A HUGE ISSUE AND IT'S A GREAT THING YOU BROUGHT THAT UP. GORE AND BUSH DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT. IT'S NOT APPROACHED. BUT, YEAH, I BELIEVE IN THOU SHALT NOT KILL. THAT'S WHAT I LIVE BY. BUT THAT'S NOT GOING TO COME INTO PLAY. WE NEED TO CUT AND REDUCE SO WE CAN PUT THIS MONEY OTHER PLACES. THAT IS THE PRIMARY QUESTION THAT NEEDS TO BE ASKED IN ALL ELECTIONS THIS YEAR.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN LATHAM, HOW WOULD YOU TREAT THE U.S. MILITARY IN THE NEXT CONGRESS?

Latham: WELL, WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE IS NOT DOLLARS WASTED IN MILITARY, BUT IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE UNITED STATES MAINTAIN THEIR POSITION OF SUPERIORITY AROUND THE WORLD. ONE OF THE MAJOR PROBLEMS WE HAVE IS THAT CURRENTLY WE HAVE ALL THESE DEPLOYMENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD. WE ARE LOSING PEOPLE OUT OF THE MILITARY BECAUSE OF LACK OF LEADERSHIP, NUMBER ONE, IN THE ADMINISTRATION. BUT THE FUNDING MECHANISM JUST HASN'T BEEN THERE FOR THEM TO MAINTAIN A QUALITY OF LIFE. WE HAVE 16,000 PEOPLE IN UNIFORM WHO ARE ON WELFARE, FOOD STAMPS. THAT IS OBSCENE, I THINK, AS FAR AS -- WE SHOULD HONOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES FOR THIS COUNTRY. AND THIS REALLY HAS A DIRECT IMPACT ON OUR DISTRICT. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE 185TH UP IN SIOUX CITY, WE HAVE 1,100 - 1,200 JOBS DEPENDENT UPON MAINTAINING A VIABLE 185TH, AND FORT DODGE IS A MAJOR ISSUE FOR US. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEIR ROLE IS VIABLE AND THAT WE CONTINUE TO HAVE THOSE GREAT FACILITIES IN THE DISTRICT.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, ANOTHER ISSUE FACING THE NEXT CONGRESS IS GOING TO BE THE FEDERAL BUDGET SURPLUS. MOST EVERYONE THINKS THERE WILL BE ONE OF SOME SIZE. THE QUESTION I HAVE FOR EACH OF YOU IS WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT. WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THE FEDERAL BUDGET SURPLUS IN THE NEXT CONGRESS?

Latham: I THINK, FIRST OF ALL, GOING BACK TO WHEN I FIRST RAN IN 1994, IF ANYONE WOULD HAVE BELIEVED A POLITICIAN AT THAT TIME SAYING THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY BALANCE THE BUDGET AND GET TO A SURPLUS, THEY PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE TAKEN MUCH CREDENCE AS FAR AS THAT STATEMENT. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, THIS YEAR WE WILL HAVE A $230-BILLION SURPLUS.

Yepsen: SO WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT?

Latham: WELL, WE ARE PAYING OFF DEBT. WE WILL HAVE PAID OFF ABOUT HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT IN THE PAST THREE YEARS. WHAT WE SHOULD DO IS, NUMBER ONE, TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT WE HAVE. WE NEED TO FIX MEDICARE. OUR RURAL HOSPITALS ARE STARVING OUT THERE, OUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. THAT IS A HIGH PRIORITY. MAINTAIN THE SAFETY NET FOR PEOPLE WHO REALLY NEED HELP. PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR THOSE AT LOW INCOME PEOPLE. BUT THE REST OF IT ACTUALLY IS AN OVERPAYMENT OF TAXES, AND WE CAN PAY OFF THE DEBT AND GIVE SOME TAX RELIEF, SAY THE MARRIAGE TAX PENALTY. WHEN MY SON AND NEW DAUGHTER-IN-LAW GOT MARRIED A YEAR AGO, WHEN THEY SAID "I DO," THAT COST THEM $1,400 A YEAR IN NEW TAXES. THAT'S WRONG.

Yepsen: MR. PALECEK, THE SAME QUESTION. WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THE FEDERAL BUDGET SURPLUS?

Palecek: ANY SURPLUS SHOULD GO TO HUMAN NEEDS: IT SHOULD GO TO HEALTH CARE; IT SHOULD GO TO THE POOR; IT SHOULD GO TO WORKING FAMILIES. WE HAVE -- IN THIS LAND OF WEALTH, WE STILL HAVE 18 MILLION CHILDREN WHO ARE LIVING IN POVERTY. AND WE NEED TO -- THAT NEEDS TO BE OUR PRIORITY, NOT TAX CUTS.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT PAYING DOWN THE DEBT?

Palecek: THAT'S FINE. I'M NOT INTERESTED IN THAT. I'M INTERESTED IN HUMAN NEEDS. I'M INTERESTED IN THE POOR. I'M INTERESTED IN IMMIGRANTS. WE NEED IN EDUCATION -- I TOURED THE SCHOOLS IN THE FIFTH DISTRICT THIS PAST COUPLE WEEKS, AND WE NEED TO PUT MONEY INTO INFRASTRUCTURE. WE NEED TO PUT MONEY INTO TEACHER SALARIES.

Beck: ONE OF THE HUMAN NEEDS TOPICS IS RURAL HOSPITALS AND A CONTINUED DISCREPANCY BETWEEN WHAT IOWA HOSPITALS GET AND LARGER STATES GET IN MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT RATES, WHICH HAS CAUSED SOME DIFFICULTY FOR OUR HOSPITALS. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU COULD WORK ON IN CONGRESS?

Palecek: I DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THAT TO COMMENT.

Beck: THIS HAS BEEN A CONTINUAL PROBLEM.

Latham: ABSOLUTELY. AND THE REAL PROBLEM WAS BACK IN 1997 WHEN WE PUT IN SOME MEDICARE PREFORMS. WE WERE TOLD AT THAT TIME THAT RAISING THE REIMBURSEMENT RATE, WHICH ON AVERAGE IN THE FIFTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT WAS $220 PER PERSON PER MONTH AND WERE TOLD AT THAT TIME IF WE GOT IT UP TO $365, WE WOULD HAVE NEW OPTIONS FOR SENIORS, THAT THAT WOULD TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM. WELL, THAT HASN'T HAPPENED AND A LOT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH THE WAY HCFA, THE HEALTH CARE FINANCING ADMINISTRATION, HAS ENACTED THAT ACT. THEY'VE NOT SPENT ABOUT $45 BILLION THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO BE PUT INTO RURAL HOSPITALS AND TO RURAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. SO WE HAVE TO LOOK AT HELPING THOSE HOSPITALS SURVIVE. IT'S NOT A MATTER OF QUALITY CARE. IT'S A MATTER OF HAVING ANY CARE AT ALL. WE HAVE HOSPITALS THAT ARE GOING TO CLOSE UP THERE UNLESS WE FIX THAT PROBLEM. I'M IN A KEY POSITION ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TO REALLY HELP OUR RURAL HOSPITALS SURVIVE.

Beck: SHOULD SOME OF THEM CLOSE? LIKE SCHOOLS, SHOULD THEY COMBINE, CONSOLIDATE?

Latham: YOU KNOW, THERE'S WHAT THEY CALL THE GOLDEN HOUR, IF YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT, TO SURVIVE AND TO GET TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM. RIGHT NOW IF YOU WERE IN A CAR WRECK UP IN NORTHERN WINNEBAGO COUNTY, IT WOULD BE OVER AN HOUR TO GET TO A QUALIFIED EMERGENCY ROOM. AND YOU'RE GOING TO DIE IF YOU DON'T GET THERE.

Borg: I NEED TO MOVE ON SO WE CAN GET SOME MORE QUESTIONS IN HERE. MR. PALECEK, YOU WANTED TO TALK ABOUT IMMIGRATION. MY QUESTION TO YOU IS IOWA HAS MORE JOBS THAN IT HAS PEOPLE TO FILL THEM. A SPECIAL COMMISSION HAS SAID WE NEED TO BRING MORE PEOPLE INTO IOWA THROUGH IMMIGRATION. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE REPRESENTING NORTHWEST IOWA TO ACHIEVE THAT?

Palecek: WELL, WE NEED TO WELCOME HISPANICS AND OTHER MINORITIES. WE NEED TO WELCOME THEM WITH A HANDSHAKE AND NOT HANDCUFFS. WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO COME HERE AND LIVE, AND WE'RE SAYING THAT IF YOU'RE NOT THE RIGHT COLOR, WE'RE NOT GOING TO ACCEPT YOU. I THINK THAT'S RIDICULOUS. I THINK WE NEED TO…

Borg: THAT'S A MINDSET. WHAT WOULD YOU DO LEGISLATIVELY?

Palecek: WELL, I THINK WE NEED TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF VISAS. I WOULD BE IN FAVOR OF OPEN BORDERS. I DON'T SEE ANY REASON WHY IT WOULDN'T BE -- WE ALL CAME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. MY PEOPLE CAME FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND IRELAND. THEY WERE POOR PEOPLE SEEKING A PLACE TO LIVE. AND I REALLY BELIEVE THAT'S WHAT HISPANICS ARE DOING. I WENT AROUND TRYING TO GET SIGNATURES TO BE ON THE BALLOT, AND THERE WAS A HISPANIC WOMAN WHO DIDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH. AND SHE HAD TO GET HER HUSBAND TO COME AND TALK TO ME. AFTER I LEFT, I KNOW THAT SHE WAS ASKING HER HUSBAND, "WHO WAS THAT?" SHE WAS IN FEAR. I DON'T THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR. I THINK THAT IS THE MAIN THING. WE AS WHITES NEED TO WORK ON THAT.

Borg: CONGRESSMAN LATHAM.

Yepsen: OPEN BORDERS -- EXCUSE ME.

Borg: GO AHEAD.

Yepsen: OPEN BORDERS? WOULDN'T THE COUNTRY BE FLOODED WITH MEXICANS COMING TO THE UNITED STATES SEEKING JOBS IF WE OPENED OUR BORDERS?

Palecek: PERHAPS.

Yepsen: AND YOU THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING.

Palecek: I THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING. THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION WITH CHURCHES ON EVERY BLOCK, AND I THINK THAT IS OUR PRIMARY FUNCTION.

Borg: CONGRESSMAN LATHAM, CHANGES IN IMMIGRATION LAWS?

Latham: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I MEAN, I AM A VERY STRONG SUPPORTER OF LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND TO MAKE SURE THAT WHEN PEOPLE GO THROUGH THE PROCESS COMING HERE THAT THEY ARE WELCOME, THAT WE INVITE PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS IN. I THINK THAT'S VERY POSITIVE FOR THE STATE OF IOWA, I REALLY DO. BUT IT'S LEGAL IMMIGRATION. AND ONE PROBLEM WE HAVE, AND IT'S A PROBLEM I'VE HAD TO DEAL WITH ON THE COMMERCE -- JUST THE STATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS WHICH FUNDS THE INS, IS THAT AGENCY IS TOTALLY DYSFUNCTIONAL TODAY. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS BREAK IT OUT, HAVE AN ENFORCEMENT AREA, BUT ALSO HAVE A FUNCTIONING ADMINISTRATIVE AREA SO THAT WHEN THESE PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO COME IN AND COME IN LEGALLY THAT THERE ARE NOT ROADBLOCKS SET UP. THE AGENCY AS IT IS, IS CURRENTLY DYSFUNCTIONAL.

Yepsen: GENTLEMEN, WE'VE GOT JUST A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT. I WANT TO GET TO EDUCATION. MR. PALECEK, WHAT SHOULD THE FEDERAL ROLE IN EDUCATION BE?

Palecek: BUILD SCHOOLS NOT PRISONS. WE BUILT -- I TOURED THE YANKTON FEDERAL PRISON THIS PAST WEEK, AND THE FEDERAL PRISON SYSTEM BUILT 30 NEW -- OR OPENED 30 NEW FEDERAL PRISONS THIS YEAR. WE NEED TO CUT DOWN ON THE -- WE NEED TO CUT BACK THE DRUG WAR OR END THE DRUG WAR. AND WE NEED TO PUT THE MONEY WE'RE PUTTING IN PRISONS INTO SCHOOLS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TEACHER SALARIES.

Yepsen: END THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS?

Palecek: YES.

Yepsen: DECRIMINALIZE?

Palecek: NO, I'M NOT WILLING TO GO THAT FAR. THE DRUG WAR IS JUST AN EASY THING FOR A POLITICIAN TO GET ELECTED. IT'S BEEN THAT WAY FOR 10, 15 YEARS, AND WE'RE RUINING LIVES. WE CAN'T LOCK UP OUR WHOLE POPULATION.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN? QUICKLY, THE FEDERAL ROLE IN EDUCATION.

Latham: WELL, THE FEDERAL ROLE IN EDUCATION SHOULD BE, NUMBER ONE, TO PAY THE MANDATES THAT THEY CURRENTLY HAVE ON THE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS. AND WHAT WE HAVE TRIED TO DO, WHAT I BELIEVE IN, IS TO RETURN THE POWER BACK TO THE FAMILIES, BACK TO THE TEACHERS, BACK TO THE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS. WHAT THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WE HAVE TODAY IS, ONLY 6 PERCENT OF THE DOLLARS THEY GET IN LOCAL SCHOOLS COMES FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. FIFTY PERCENT OF THE PAPERWORK AND THE BUREAUCRACY COMES FROM THOSE $6. AND THEY'RE ALSO WASTING 35 CENTS ON A DOLLAR IN THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY, AND IT NEVER GETS INTO A CLASSROOM. PUT THE MONEY IN TO HELP—

Yepsen: EXCUSE ME, VERY QUICKLY –

Latham: -- FILL THE MANDATES.

Yepsen: WOULD YOU END THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS?

Latham: ABSOLUTELY NOT. THE METH EPIDEMIC IN IOWA IS THE NUMBER ONE THREAT WE HAVE TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE AND TO OUR SOCIETY, I THINK TO THE VERY FABRIC OF OUR COMMUNITIES.

Borg: THANK YOU, GENTLEMEN, FOR BEING WITH US TODAY. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF IOWA PRESS, OUR CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT SHIFTS TO THE FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. JOINING US WILL BE THE CONTENDERS THERE FROM THE TWO MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES: INCUMBENT CONGRESSMAN JIM LEACH... HE'S A REPUBLICAN FROM DAVENPORT; AND BOB SIMPSON... HE'S A DEMOCRAT FROM IOWA CITY. THEY'LL BE HERE TO DISCUSS THE ISSUES DRIVING THEIR CAMPAIGNS NEXT SUNDAY AT NOON AND 7:00 HERE ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. A CLOSING REMINDER, FIND US ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB AT THE ADDRESS THAT'S ON YOUR SCREEN RIGHT NOW. IT'S WWW.IOWAPRESS.IPTV.ORG. THAT'S THIS EDITION. JOIN US NEXT WEEK AT NOON AND 7:00. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

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