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Local News

May 2, 2011

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley addresses town hall meeting Thursday at Mercy Medical

CENTERVILLE — Thursday afternoon during U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley's Appanoose County Town Hall Meeting the audience expressed concern with the country's debt, healthcare and illegal immigration, to name a few issues.

A man sitting in the front row asked the senator about the U.S. Mexican border and when he was going to take care of it. He cited the tremendous amount of illegal drugs and illegal aliens coming into the United States, to which some applauded.

Sen. Grassley was given a short round of applause when he said, "I have voted for the fence and it's not completed. I would vote to complete it. I voted for more border patrol" officers. "I would not vote for amnesty."

Grassley said he is the main sponsor of mandatory e-verify where employee's social security numbers must be verified and he would increase the penalties on illegals.

This exchange intensified when the man mentioned Iowa has two sanctuary cities. “Why are there sanctuary cities here?,” he asked.

Grassley said sanctuary cities exist because the U. S. immigration service doesn't want to arrest people living in sanctuary cities. Grassley said he has voted for amendments prohibiting sanctuary cities by withholding federal aid to them.

One man questioned why the federal government is subsidizing a competing health care clinic in Centerville when Mercy Medical Center is already established and the money they get would be put to better use at Mercy. And Mercy does more than $1 million in charitable care every year, he said.

Grassley said because Mercy Medical Center is a non-profit, they are expected to give charity care. Grassley had no answer for the first part of the question.

Other issues covered:

Q. Are you in favor of raising the debt ceiling?

A. I'm against it unless we can get an agreement requiring a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

Q. What money and jobs have you brought to Appanoose County?

A. It's not government's responsibility to create jobs. It's up to businesses and entrepreneurs to do that. Grassley said money can come to the states through earmarks or through federal formulas.

Q. Do you favor term limits?

A. I voted for term limits during the Clinton administration but it did not get enough votes to pass.

Q. The national debt is just frightening.

A. Forty-two cents out of every dollar we spend is borrowed from countries like China or Japan and the other 58 cents comes from taxes.

Since 1960, the U.S. debt was about 35 percent of gross national product. In the last two years, it's 65 percent and is projected to reach 90 percent of GNP, Grassley said. Now's the time to intervene.

"We need to go back to the 2008 level expenditures and freeze for five years," Grassley said.

Q. The state has the right to nullify Obama healthcare reform.

A. I would rather repeal it and I voted to repeal it in February. Grassley said the courts could find it unconstitutional.

"If the courts declare it unconstitutional, then you start over," Grassley said. "So I think the practical answer to your question is, it becomes part of the presidential campaign next time. If Obama's re-elected, it's going to continue pretty much like it is. If we get a new president, I think it's going to be changed pretty dramatically."

Grassley said he would vote to defund it but the Obama administration pre-funded it through 2014.

Q. What about climate change?

A. If anything is going to be done, it's got to be done by international agreement.

"I don't think we should do it unless we have a level playing field with the rest of the world," Grassley said.

Q. Obama, his administration and his czars have almost made Congress irrelevant.

A. I co-sponsored a bill to have czars appointed like cabinet members who must be approved by the Senate.

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