OPERATOR: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Iowa
Senator Chuck Grassley speaking to you live from Des Moines.
Participating in today's public affairs program are Michael Cooley
with KSIB Radio in Creston and Rick Morain with the Jefferson Herald
in Jefferson. The first question will be from Michael Cooley.
COOLEY: Yes, Senator Grassley, recently Governor Culver met with
President-elect Barack Obama asking for an expansion to include power
grid improvements in possible stimulus money to come from the federal
government in regards to wind energy. Is this something that we'll
see likely in the future?
GRASSLEY: We're definitely going to continue tax incentives for
wind energy. What we'll do beyond that I'm not sure because everybody
in the wind energy business feels as long as we keep in the 1.8 cents
per kilowatt hour tax incentive that we're going to have plenty
incentive to build wind energy.
What we need beyond that I have not had anybody in the wind
energy business tell me. And since I'm the father of the wind energy
tax incentive, that 1.8 cents I'm talking about going back to 1992 and
have always supported extensions of it since then, obviously you're
going to find me being in the forefront of any effort to make sure
that we have a viable wind energy business.
COOLEY: OK, thank you.
MORAIN: Senator, the agreement under which coalition troops can
operate in Iraq expires at the end of this month. And the Iraqi
government is working through the approval process of that. Is that
agreement defined as a treaty under U.S. law? And if so, will the
U.S. - will the Senate have to approve it as well?
GRASSLEY: It is not defined as a treaty. It's defined as an
agreement, a military agreement between two governments. We have
similar agreements with about 115 other countries. They do not give
us any right to intervene in a country. It only lays out under what
circumstances if we are in that country we have certain rights and
MORAIN: Thank you.
COOLEY: Senator Grassley, a recent report came out - I'm sure
you're familiar with the Generation Iowa Commission - that shows,
according to census data, Iowa has lost more college-educated people
than 46 other states since the year 2000. What do we need to do to be
able to fix that brain drain?
GRASSLEY: We obviously need higher paying jobs in Iowa. I think
the pay is the most important thing. But among young people as
opposed to those of us that are older we're finding a great deal of
interest on the part of young people in the quality of life that we
have in Iowa.
And I think for young professionals that involves two things,
things that are recreational and ecologically oriented and things that
are good-paying jobs. And maybe I ought to add another thing, kind of
the quality of life involving the finer arts. And I think we - in
order to - I think the jobs are the most important thing. I think
economics is probably going to rule out a lot of other things. So the
extent to which we have high-tech jobs, scientific jobs is the route
COOLEY: Thank you.
MORAIN: Senator, the 2007 farm bill provided authority to create
a Northern Great Plains authority for six states in the upper Midwest,
Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and then the next tier over, the Dakotas and
Nebraska. It hasn't been rolled out yet, but with the stimulus
package coming down the pike, is there a possibility that the Northern
Great Plains authority might be created as a vehicle to funnel some of
that stimulus money to the upper Midwest?
GRASSLEY: I think that without a doubt that the organization
you're referring to is well-respected as a think tank and a planning
agency and an agency to make recommendations. I'm not sure that I can
answer your question because I don't know to what extent they're an
GRASSLEY: And in the way of expending funds for economic
development, infrastructure and for economic stimulus, they would have
to be a functioning organization as well as a study recommending
organization. Now, to what extent are they administering programs
that actually expend money and would see that projects would be built?
MORAIN: Yes, there's a Northern Great Plains, Incorporated,
which is a non-profit agency. And I think that's the one you're
talking about. The farm bill provides for the creation of an actual
authority like the delta authority.
GRASSLEY: Well, and in that case...
MORAIN: ... Appalachian authority.
GRASSLEY: Yes, then in that case, they could administer the
GRASSLEY: Now, your question to me is would they stand a chance
of getting funds.
GRASSLEY: And at this point, I have not been involved in enough
discussions about stimulus package that I know beyond highways,
airports and metro planning and some disaster prevention that I can
speak about anything else.
MORAIN: Yes, yes. Thank you.
COOLEY: Senator Grassley, we're seeing all sorts of, it looks
like, the big three auto makers obviously back and forth and wondering
-- it looks like they're learning. Instead of a jet, they're bringing
their own cars now. But wondered if you could give your take on the
updated SARS (ph), how that's going.
GRASSLEY: Well, there's some suggestion this morning on
television that we may not even be called back into session next week.
For three weeks I've been planning to go back on December the 8th to
spend at least one week in session. That may not happen, based upon
what Reid was saying yesterday. It isn't definitive.
Now, if we do go back and if it's going to get enough support so
that loans would go out, I would say my condition and the condition of
a lot of people I've heard from, particularly colleagues, is that
union contracts are going to have to be renegotiated. Now, we've got
to get American manufacturers more competitive with foreign
manufacturers that are manufacturing in the Southern parts of the
United States. And if that doesn't happen, I don't think one would go
Now, I think I could tell you also, though, from the standpoint
of the calls to my office, that it seems to be overwhelmingly opposed
to any sort of help for the big three. But I don't know whether
that's if we had the condition of renegotiating union contracts, if
that might make people, my constituents, a little more amenable to it.
But if it's a flat out give them money, I think it's
overwhelmingly in opposition to it. There tends to be a real problem
with not just Detroit, but a feeling on the part of our constituents
that maybe what we've already done isn't doing enough good. And so,
people are a little bit anti-bailout, based upon just lethargy towards
MORAIN: Senator, the Des Moines Register this morning had a
little item about your revamped web site and quoting you as urging
people to go to it as a way to communicate with your office. Will you
still -- do you still plan to continue your tradition of visiting each
of Iowa's 99 counties every year in addition to the revamped web site?
GRASSLEY: Yes. I hope I didn't imply in any way that the new
web site had anything to do with changing my approach for 28 years,
having a town meeting, high school meeting, rotary club, visiting
businesses. But most of my meetings are at the courthouse where I
just have a plain, old, simple town meeting. Anyway, I intend to
continue those. And I'll be starting -- if we're not in session in
January, it'll start in January. Otherwise, it'll start with our
President's Day recess that we have in February. And I'll hopefully
get through the 99 counties by Labor Day, as I do most every year.
MORAIN: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Thank you, Michael and Rick, for participating in
today's public affairs program. This has been Senator Chuck Grassley
reporting to the people of Iowa.