King draws small crowd, polite questions, police coverage for town hall meeting

~by Denise O’ Brien Van

Republican Steve King, Iowa’s Fourth District Congressman, drew about 30 people, including several leading Greene County Democrats, two police officers and a handful of local news reporters, to an April 25 town hall meeting at the Jefferson Community Golf Course.

No local Republican leaders were present.The local group’s vice chair Sean Sebourn said its chairman Roger Olhausen was out of town. Seabourn said he was unable to attend because of business commitments, adding that the meeting had been hastily arranged.

Questions, which had to be submitted to King’s staffers, were of the “Iowa nice” variety. No one mentioned King’s recent condemnation for racist comments by his House of Representative peers, who also stripped him of all his committee assignments.

Police presence had been requested by the U.S. Capitol Police, according to Jefferson police chief Mark Clouse, who said he had received an e-mail and a follow-up telephone request from the force whose mission is to protect Congress. There was no indication of why the police presence was needed, Clouse said.

“We’re often asked to do this when presidential candidates come to town,” Clouse said, adding, “I think we know why (the request to monitor King’s meeting) this time.”

Clouse was possibly referring to a March 22 incident at a Fort Dodge restaurant where Blake Gibbins, a 2010 graduate of Jefferson-Scranton high school, threw a glass of water on King. Gibbon was arrested, and may be charged with a federal crime.

King, writing on his official government website, called the town hall meeting “excellent,” adding, “Good (sometimes difficult) and constructive questions…from trade to border security, healthcare….”

In opening remarks, King said he hadn’t read the Mueller Report, issued last week by a special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, although he echoed President Donald Trump’s mantra that the document found, “No collusion. No corruption.”

He added, “The president doesn’t have a smooth path ahead, because of Congressional subpoenas and reports.”

The seven questions King’s staffers decided he should respond to included inquiries about his plans now to increase currently low agriculture prices and how to provide of healthcare and access to affordable drug prescriptions; plus his ideas on the fairness of directing FEMA (Federal Emergency Management) resources to border security, away from relief funds for natural disasters like last summer’s Marshalltown tornado.

Ag prices can rise with more trade deals, in particular bilateral agreements with Britain and the European Union, King said, adding that he hopes year-round ethanol blends will be mandated, but he doesn’t know when that will occur.

His plans for good healthcare include tort reform to curtail high-dollar medical malpractice lawsuits, sale of health insurance across state lines to encourage competition, deduction of health insurance premium costs on federal income tax forms and his “dream legislation,” health savings accounts “that can turn into life savings accounts and take millions off the entitlement rolls” if the accounts aren’t used to pay for medical care.

King turned the FEMA vs. border funding question into a low-key rant on illegal immigration, saying, “Every 24 weeks an entire Congressional district is surplanted by illegals…that would be six Congressional seats in California due to illegals.”

The average size of a Congressional district currently is about 711,000 residents. California, with a population of 39.5 million, has 53 districts.

In his opening remarks, he described the U.S.-Mexican border as the “worst mess it’s ever been. Virtually 100 percent of the girls (hoping to cross the border) have been given birth control pills because they know they’ll be raped on the way” to the U.S.

In answer to a question about inflation, King said, “We need to raise the individual GNP (gross national product).”

He said current Iowa labor shortages began in the 1980s farm crisis when many young people left rural areas. He added that the shortage is also heightened by “Liberal arts majors who want too much money (in salaries) and guys from the neighborhood who can’t pass drug tests. And, we need those who can pull the wagon, rather than riding in it,” castigating citizens who receive Social Security disability benefits.

The Jefferson meeting was King’s 14th this year. No more are scheduled, according to his website.

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