US Rep. Steve King fired salvoes at deficit spending and what he saw as another deficit in Presidential leadership at the legislative town hall meeting at the Estherville Farm and Home Show last Saturday at the Regional Wellness Center.
"The government's been run on continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills," said King. "Congress is now powerless to rein in the President."
"This national loan interest debt is far more of a threat than student loan interest rates are," said King.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, who represents Iowa Congressional District 4, visited with constituents at the Regional Wellness Center last Saturday.
Photo by Michael Tidemann
King also commented on the Farm Bill.
"I felt it treated livestock producers pretty poorly or not well enough," said King, who decried the fact that the same bill has provisions to encourage people to sign up for food stamps.
Meanwhile, said King, 100 million working-age Americans are not in the workforce.
"We need a much higher labor participation rate," said Kind, noting that rate is at its lowest since 1973, adding that he didn't see how 2.3 million people dropping out of the workforce because of Obamacare was a good thing.
"We have to be increasing the average annual productivity of our people," said King who disagreed with those who say we need to allow foreign workers in to take away American jobs.
King also discussed the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (also known as the King amendment) he proposed as part of the House version of the U.S. farm bill. The legislation would have prohibited states from enacting any laws that set standards for agricultural production that exceed those in other states governing the same production.
King's reasoning was that California's new law requiring that all eggs sold in the state come from chickens kept in non-confining cages violates the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution.
"We should be a 50-state free-trade zone," said King, noting that while California can regulate products in its own state it shouldn't be allowed to regulate products in other states.
King said the Senate Ag Committee chair had refused to debate his amendment.
He said the Missouri attorney general in response had filed a lawsuit against the State of California.
King also called for a stronger foreign policy, citing a tradeoff in Syria and Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
"We need a stronger foreign policy. We need a more competent commander-in chief," said King. "Our alliances need to be far better than they are."
King asked those present to question presidential candidates who campaign in Iowa about their understanding of foreign policy.
In a question-and-answer session that followed, King said the petroleum industry had fought the Renewable Fuel Standard which curiously also lacked support from environmentalists.
"The petroleum industry does not want to see competition coming out of the gas pump," said King. "If we don't have the RFS we have the equivalent of a 100 percent petroleum mandate at the gas pump."
King also noted he was not convinced the EPA has the authority to reduce the RFS which was set by statute.
"This administration seems to have made a bold move against renewable energy and I didn't expect that," King said.
Jim Boyer commented on Japanese tariffs on US ag production. "There seems to be a strong lobby for protectionism for their producers," Boyer said.
King also talked about Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
"When I look in Putin's eyes I see KGB," said King. "I think he'll try to pull all of Ukraine within the orbit of Russia."
King said Ukraine's deposed president had quashed Western economic incentive offers in favor of a $15 billion package from Russia - which he said was what had started riots in the streets of Ukraine.
King also said the Russians were already in Ukraine when President Obama warned them to stay out.
"If you're not going to defend a line, don't draw it," said King. "The only thing that will make them (Russia) back up will be global opinion."
King also addressed a question about the Keystone pipeline from one constituent who said 90 percent of the oil would be exported.
King said he favored the pipeline and would like to keep as much energy in the US as possible. However, he added, "The more you pump into the system the more access we have to it."
He said efforts to build a pipeline from Canada to China have been slowed down.
King also said the Hyperion refinery proposed for southeastern South Dakota could have refined oil locally and distributed it better.
Another question was whether King was still trying to get to the bottom of the Benghazi debacle or whether the matter was being dropped.
King said it was not being dropped and called for a select commission to investigate the matter.
"We don't know where our military assets were at the time of the attack on Benghazi," King said. "I'm not satisfied that we've got the answers. I'm convinced that the people on the ground thought they were going to get air cover."
King said the administration had lied about the causes of the Benghazi incident and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew there had been a planned attack within three hours after it happened. He said the military and secretary of defense knew that within minutes.
"History needs to record the truth," said King. "And that will at least be better than what we have today."
Another question was whether Lois Learner of the IRS should be compelled to testify about targeting conservative groups for audits.
King said Learner said she had done nothing wrong before taking the Fifth Amendment, which opened her up to having to testify.
"These indications are that she's violated serious laws," King said, adding that the IRS was carrying out the President's mission.
When Boyer asked King whether he would throw his hat in for President, King said he'll direct his attention to the national level in New Hampshire and South Carolina, but in developing planks in the Republican platform.
"I think we need to restore the Constitution," King said.