Grassley hosts town meeting in George
GEORGE, Iowa -- While the United States doesn't face the fiscal disorder of Greece or Spain, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Monday morning, that doesn't mean Americans shouldn't be concerned.
Grassley, speaking in the first of a host of Monday town meetings across northwest Iowa, told a crowd of about 40 people that much needs to be done to reverse the dire economic straits precipitated by the substantial spending of President Barack Obama's administration.
The Iowa Republican, who has served at the U.S. Capitol since 1975, spoke on multiple occasions of Obama's signature health care initiative that was upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court. He had left the topic at one juncture, but returned to it following remarks from local resident George Schneidermann.
"This health care bill, I find it amazing," said Schneidermann, saying Obama's health care reform measure has had cost estimates of $1 trillion soar to $1.6 trillion.
"I think it's going to be more than that," Schneidermann added of the cost. "You'd have to grow this economy between 25 and 30 percent in two years just to erase the deficit. I'm resigned to the fact that this is just all going to collapse."
"Like Europe?" Grassley asked.
"Can you look me in the eye and tell me I shouldn't worry?" Schneidermann inquired shortly afterward.
"I wish more people would worry like you," Grassley answered. "Do I think it's as desperate as Greece, Italy or Spain? Not yet, but close."
Grassley, who added the Supreme Court upheld what Republicans frequently call Obamacare "in a very strange way," reminded people in attendance that a President Mitt Romney would work to repeal the legislation and replace it with something far less "massive." The tax increase set to take effect Dec. 31 is already far too great, he said.
"The Supreme Court decision said that for the first time, it limits what Congress can do under the Commerce Clause," Grassley said. "If Congress can do this under taxing powers ... if you don't buy insurance, the IRS is going to be after you to pay a penalty. The president isn't going to call it a tax, because how many times did he say it wasn't a tax? But, you either buy health insurance, or the IRS is going to be after you to pay this penalty."
Another individual attending the town meeting pointed out that thanks to Obama's health care plan and other spending, the national debt is soaring to unheard-of levels.
"One of the biggest issues facing the country is our national debt," the man said. "Per citizen, the debt is $50,000; for my family of four, that's $200,000 of debt. I think our government is on a runaway freight train. You seem to indicate it's got to be a grassroots solution ... I think that's half of it. I think it's also leaders who offer and articulate solutions."
"I think the big challenge is that elected officials (will have to say) that we have to make cuts," Grassley said. "That's a very hard conversation to have."
Grassley explained that a fear of hyperinflation, "the highest tax increase in the history of the country," the burden of government regulation and "Obamacare is a big unknown" all add to up to one word: "uncertainty."
Among the other subjects discussed Monday included the need for additional funding for the Lewis and Clark water project, cracking down on Internet piracy and the Farm Bill. One individual asked Grassley about the status of the president's birth certificate.
"That's not discussed so much in Washington, but it's more discussed in town meetings," Grassley said. "The judicial branch has answered the question, unless someone comes up with some new information."
One woman at the meeting told Grassley that "it doesn't matter a bit" what Obama and Congress do "if we turn our backs to God."
"People ask, 'What should we pray for?' Grassley responded. "Wisdom."
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