Senator Grassley makes July 3 visit to Waukon part of his 99-county tour

Senator Grassley visits Waukon ... Senator Charles Grassley addresses a group that attended his stop at WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon during his Tuesday, July 3 visit to Waukon. Grassley first toured the dairy facility before fielding questions from the general public on a variety of topics, including immigration, education and the economy. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

As part of his annual 99-county tour to hear concerns and ideas from Iowans across the state, Senator Chuck Grassley visited WW Homestead Dairy by invitation of the Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Grassley toured the locally owned and operated dairy Tuesday, July 3 with WEDC Coordinator Ardie Kuhse. WW Homestead Dairy owners Tom Weighner, Tom Walleser and Paul Weighner discussed industry related issues with Grassley and provided an overview of the cheese, milk and ice cream production taking place at the dairy.

Following the facility tour, members of the public in attendance participated in a question and answer session, with Grassley providing feedback regarding a variety of topics.

One of the first questions raised involved whether or not most Americans are better off now than they were two years ago. In his response, Grassley provided some economic statistics, advising that since World War II, the average rate of economic growth has been 3.1 percent, with 2.4 percent growth experienced in the 1970s. Grassley said that recently this country has returned to three percent growth, or close to it.

The veteran senator also discussed that the currently low unemployment rate at approximately 3.8 percent, in comparison to the average of six or seven percent during the previous administration’s eight years, is a positive indicator for the economy and that investment that creates jobs is picking up due to economic certainty brought by the current administration.

Grassley said that trade is an area of uncertainty under the current administration with President Trump viewing tariffs as an important tool in the ongoing negotiation process to help create a level playing field for U.S. trade in the long-term. Grassley indicated that he and other Iowa legislators are continuing to work to address matters that negatively impact agriculture, with tariffs having some negative impact on agriculture through retaliation by trade partners.

Grassley further suggested that, in general, people are seeing some certainty in the economic future, that those who have capital are investing and that some uncertainty involving trade does exist. But he also suggested that the current administration has brought certainty to other aspects of the economy.

Waukon Mayor Pat Stone questioned Grassley about Mexico’s attitude toward the United States’ immigration policy. Grassley indicated that Mexico could do more to help secure the border but has not for a variety of reasons and that a comprehensive immigration bill is necessary to address this issue.

Grassley said that controlling the border is a necessary step before a consensus can be reached regarding U.S. immigration policy. However, he also advised that, unfortunately, the government does not have the credibility with the public on this matter because this nation’s leaders have been talking about controlling the border for 20 years. Grassley discussed the importance of legal immigration, which will help Social Security and Medicare programs in the future, when considering the declining U.S. birthrate.

Grassley also addressed a question regarding Federal support of public schools in rural areas, discussing his own education at the Iowa State Teachers College and thanking the public school teacher asking the question for his work in education. Grassley discussed the repeal of No Child Left Behind, which returned this matter to State control. He also touched on the percentage of Federal funding for education, advising that a majority of public school funding coming from local and state sources.

Following the question and answer session with the public, Grassley also responded to questions and comments from The Standard, providing an update on healthcare legislation and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise more informally known as Obamacare. Grassley indicated that Obamacare is still the law of the land but the individual mandate has been removed.

Grassley advised that the Trump administration is trying to lessen the rigidity involved with health savings accounts, allowing for the expanded use of association health plans and allowing more freedom to sell insurance across state lines. Grassley indicated that the Trump administration will likely make these changes using regulations.

As follow-up to earlier questions and comments relating to tariffs, Grassley mentioned his earlier comments and emphasized his frustration that he could not provide a definitive answer on this matter at this time. As far as legislation benefiting economic development, Grassley discussed the small business above the line five-percent deduction, a positive measure lowering the tax burden for small businesses.

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