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King places high priority on balanced budget

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

(Photo)
(Sentinel photo by Joanne Glamm) Iowa Congressman Steve King, R-Kiron, talked about the nation's $16 trillion debt during a town hall meeting Monday in Le Mars.
Iowa Congressman Steve King, R-Kiron, said he has a message he wants to take to presidential candidates.

Speaking in Le Mars Monday, King said he doesn't think an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require the federal budget to be balanced is going to be pushed hard enough by members of Congress.

"When Mitt Romney shows up here, when Paul Ryan shows up here, I hope you can say to them, 'are you going to call for a mandate from the American people to pass a balanced budget amendment out of the U.S. House and out of the U.S. Senate?'" King said.

If the candidates say "the president doesn't get a vote,"' people need to be ready to say the president will be faced with a decision about raising the federal debt ceiling, he added.

"That's the maximum leverage that the president can have -- to demand a balanced budget amendment from Congress be sent to the states for ratification and not sign a debt limit increase until that happens," King told the Le Mars audience.

The congressman also said he's challenged Iowa legislators to be the first to ratify the balanced budget amendment if the measure is sent to the states for ratification after passage by Congress.

King said a balanced budget amendment was one of two issues he is focusing on which are important from a policy standpoint.

The nation's debt will soon be $16 trillion and his youngest granddaughter has a share of that debt, the congressman said.

Her portion was $51,000 when she was 18 months old, according to King.

He discussed the issue in response to a question from Le Mars City Councilwoman Delana Ihrke about whether Congress would balance the budget.

"It's going to mean cutting or severely cutting back government employment and thus the unemployment numbers go up," Ihrke said.

King answered by saying he didn't think the will to pass the balanced budget requirement exists even in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has a Republican Party majority.

He predicted it could be 10 years before the amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified.

"But if we don't get that done, I don't know how we get to a balanced budget and I don't know how we hold it together," King explained.

Another issue the congressman said was important from a policy standpoint was repealing health care reform.

King said has made a strong pledge to repeal the law which he said he had fought for more than 2 1/2 years.

Repealing the federal health care reform law was the top issue chosen by approximately 250 people who filled out a survey at the Plymouth County Republican Party booth during the 2012 Plymouth County Fair.

They were surveyed about issues that concern them when they vote in the November Presidential Election.

King, who also attended the fair last month, was addressed by livestock producers concerned about drought conditions.

Those producers have been under significant stress with market prices coupled with high grain prices and feed costs, King said.

"I know that the pressure of these high grain prices and lower market prices is starting to pull apart that relationship between ethanol and our cattle producers -- it's already pulled more apart for some of our poultry people and our pork people," King said Monday.

The 2012 harvest forecast of 10.8 billion bushels of corn is worth as much as 13-billion bushels of corn because of market prices, King said.

Several livestock and poultry groups recently asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to halt mandates for the amount of ethanol-blended fuel in the U.S., requirements known as Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS).

King said he didn't want hasty decisions on the issue by asking the EPA to suspend RFS, if markets could solve the issue.

"It's going to be a little bit of a tough time for our livestock producers, but on the other side of the thing, we're going to be better off and we're going to have a crop next year," he said.

Congress hasn't reached an agreement on a new five-year program involving agriculture production and nutrition programs known as the Farm Bill.

King favors passage of the U.S. House version of farm legislation, saying that's what he's pushing for.

"If I were a pessimist, I'd say the most likely thing is a one-year extension of the current Farm Bill, but that to me is not a good tactic and I can't predict what's going to happen," he said.

King is seeking re-election to represent the new 4th Congressional District in November.

Several months ago he suggested six debates with his Democratic opponent, Christie Vilsack, of Ames.

"I'm pretty confident we're going to get one Sept. 6 and then there seems to be a reasonable chance there will be one in Mason City," King said.



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