U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) held an open forum on Friday with the students of Newton Senior High School and at the beginning, he told the students that “no questions were inappropriate” and that he would answer any and all questions they presented.
Grassley held up his end of the bargain and did not bite his tongue on the subjects presented to him, which included questions about Gov. Terry Branstad closing the Iowa Juvenile Home, his thoughts on the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama himself.
“This might offend some of you, but I don’t think he’s prepared to be President,” Grassley said, when asked about working with Obama compared to past presidents while being in the Senate. “I think he has made the world more dangerous by doing what he calls ‘leading from behind’ instead of leading up front.
“I’m surprised about the fact that he doesn’t want to work with Congress, because when he was a Senator, it seemed like he worked very well within the Congress. But now that he is President, it seems like he doesn’t want to deal with Congress. I think some things that he has done are even unconstitutional.”
A specific instance the senator cited he felt was an unconstitutional act by the President was ordering a recess appointment. Recess appointments takes place when a U.S. President appoints someone as a senior U.S. federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess.
“The Constitution says that only the Senate can determine when we are in session,” Grassley said. “So, we made a point of non-adjourning, because if we adjourned he could make what they call ‘recess appointments.’”
“A lot of times we stay in session — even though we aren’t doing anything — for that sole purpose, so he can’t do anything with appointments. We also did that because the Democrats wanted us to do it when Bush was President. So it isn’t just something we are doing because of a Democrat President.”
Grassley was also highly critical of the Affordable Care Act when the students asked him about it.
“The short answer is I voted against it,” Grassley said.
The senator said there were a number of reasons he voted against the bill when it was presented to the Senate and since its inception, he has even more reasons he is against the Act, which is commonly referred to as “ObamaCare.”
“There are reasons to back up voting ‘no’ right now. Number one, if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. There’s millions of people that are finding out that, that’s not true,” Grassley said. “If you want to keep your doctor, you can keep your doctor. There’s a lot of new health plans that are making people change doctors.”
Grassley said, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Act was supposed to cost around $900 billion during a 10-year preview.
“It’s coming out to a lot, lot more of that — the cost of it,” Grassley said.
While there were a lot of serious questions asked by the students — which included sophomore, junior and senior NHS students — there were also some humorous and less serious moments.
“Do you manage your own Twitter account?” one NHS student asked the Senator.
Grassley has one of the most popular Twitter accounts for a politician and currently has more than 76,000 followers. To prove that he does indeed personally “tweet,” the Senator had his aide hand him is iPhone.
“I’m at newton HS,” Grassley live tweeted to the delight of the students.
The tweet has now been retweeted 18 times and favorited 20 times.
After engaging with students for more than an hour, Grassley visited several other locations in Central Iowa including Grinnell High School.
“I hold town hall meetings all the time, but I come to high schools because you never see young people at those meetings,” Grassley said.
Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.