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Budget problem tops Grassley interview

By Staff | Sep 26, 2008

It doesn’t matter who you are as a reporter. The current proposed $700-million federal bailout of the banking industry would have to top anyone’s list when interviewing a U.S. senator.

That was the case Thursday in a telephone interview between Sen. Chuck Grassley and myself of the Estherville Daily News and Mike Earl of KDSN Radio of Denison.

Earl, taking the first question, asked Grassley about the federal government’s role in the bailout.

Grassley said that every proposal he’s read “makes it almost impossible to solve the credit crunch we’ve had.” Regarding his constituents, Grassley said 80 percent oppose President Bush’s proposed $700 billion bailout of the banking industry.

“You find a great resentment among Iowans” of CEOs getting large severance packages after their failed performances in large companies, the senator said.

“I’m not sure how I would vote on it,” Grassley said. He said the only bailout package he could support would provide for no severance pay or “golden parachute” for ousted CEOs and an equity share for the government for companies it help. The government, he said, should buy in “at the lowest possible rate.”

As far as how he would vote on the bailout, said Grassley, “at this point I’m uncertain.”

Grassley responded to a question from Tidemann regarding any possibility that ethanol subsidies could be included in the McCain platform. He noted that McCain’s energy package supports biofuels but his agriculture package does not call for ethanol subsidies.

“I don’t like his position but I think his position has been consistent, Grassley said. “His position on ethanol is the least thing to be concerned about.”

A matter of concern for Grassley is that Obama wants to reopen trade agreements with foreign countries.

“That would be very bad for agriculture in Iowa,” Grassley said.

As an example, the senator said McCain wanted farmers to be able to pass on their family farms.

Grassley did say that he felt Obama and McCain’s returning to the Senate would allow them to hammer out the ethanol issue, among others.

Responding to Tidemann, Grassley said the one topic he would like to hear the presidential candidates debate is oil drilling.

“I would like to see that issue addressed and a mandate for more drilling,” he said.

Grassley favors a comprehensive energy program, including nuclear, fossil fuels, alternative energy and conservation, the latter two of which he said both Democrats and Republicans could agree upon.

Regarding a question by Tidemann on the war in Afghanistan, Grassley noted increased activity by the Taliban which has been hiding out in Pakistan. He said the fact that the U.S. is part of a NATO presence gives greater moral authority to having troops in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan was without doubt a training pad for al Qaida,” Grassley said.