Kay Pence highlights Senator Grassley’s double standards on the federal deficit, depending on which party controls the presidency.
I was 4 years old when Senator Grassley first entered elected office. I grew up, got married, raised a family, went to college, had a career and now I’m retired. Who knows, I may have even voted for Senator Grassley at one time. A lot has changed in the last 62 years though: namely, Chuck Grassley.
Normally I would support a healthy senior continuing to work as long as they want. However, I’ve always believed we send Representatives to Congress to represent our interests. The Alliance for Retired Americans has been tracking Representatives’ voting records since it was formed in 2001 and Senator Grassley has only voted correctly on senior issues 11 percent of the time.
When running for re-election or when we have a Democratic president, Senator Grassley claims to bring Midwestern common sense to the people’s business. Last month he said, “Working families and retirees can’t spend willy-nilly without keeping close eye on their bank accounts. Small businesses and farming operations would go bankrupt if they didn’t make sure their expenses squared up with income. In other words, Iowans live within their means.”
However, it’s hard to cite examples of Congress living within their means in the 62 years Grassley has been in elected office. When Republicans control the government, he has no concerns about pulling out the taxpayers’ credit card.
Since Grassley was first elected, the debt ceiling has been raised 78 times: 49 times under Republican presidents, and 29 times under Democratic presidents. When Donald Trump was president, the national debt grew at the fastest rate of any modern president to $27.75 trillion, up 39 percent from $19.95 trillion four years earlier. Grassley enthusiastically supported the largest driver of Trump’s deficit, his 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and didn’t pay for a penny of them with spending cuts.
The deficit games Grassley and his Republican colleagues are now playing cause many Americans to lose faith that Congress works for us. Grassley doesn’t like the Build Back Better bill because people and corporations that make more than $400,000 a year will have to start to pay their fair share.
The Build Back Better plan closes the carried-interest tax loophole, which allows private equity moguls to classify their income as capital gains and pay only a lower tax rate on those earnings, rather than the normal top income rate of 37 percent. This is the tax loophole billionaire Warren Buffet highlighted when he admitted it allows him to pay a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. Working people are tired of paying higher effective tax rates than billionaires. Why isn’t Grassley on the same page?
Americans are also tired of paying the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. Consumers in other high income countries pay a fraction of what Americans pay because they negotiate prices. Grassley was the chief architect of banning Medicare from negotiating fair drug prices which leaves seniors at the mercy of drug companies’ unquenchable greed. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that seniors, taxpayers, and employers would save over $450 billion if we allowed the largest purchaser of drugs in the world to negotiate prices just like other high income countries do.
Those savings could be used to strengthen Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision coverage. Grassley continues to block negotiations in the name of competition but it seems that the only competition is between who can fleece consumers the most.
Supply chain disruptions caused by increasing weather events; fires, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc. are also increasing our costs. The longer we wait to address climate change, the more it is going to cost. It looks like Big Pharma, billionaires and fossil fuel industry lobbyists may sway enough corporate Democrats to kill Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. But if we had a senator willing to come to the table and represent Iowans we could have a fairer tax code, lower drug prices, and we could finally start addressing climate change.
Seniors can’t afford another six years of obstruction by Chuck Grassley.
Kay Pence is a retired Communions Workers of America union representative and Vice President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans. Pence started her career as a technician for Northwestern Bell Telephone company in 1972 and while working full time earned a BA from Marycrest University and a MBA from Saint Ambrose University in Davenport. Pence is the mother of three sons and grandmother to six and resides in rural Eldridge, Iowa with her husband of 46 years.