Dem takes aim at Grassley’s economic record

BY SHAWN GUDE | MAY 08, 2009 7:30 AM

U.S. Senate candidate Bob Krause doesn’t have any personal animosity toward Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

“I think he’s an honest man,” said Krause, who mingled with Hamburg Inn diners early Thursday night.

But he contends Grassley, after nearly three decades in the Senate, has gradually “drifted” away from average Iowans and called Grassley’s seniority “over-rated,” based on what he’s been able to accomplish.

“You stay around public office that long, you collect a circle of friends, a circle of lobbyists that might be around you,” said Krause, a 1972 graduate of the UI. “You get infused with the same ideas constantly.”

Krause first must get past next year’s Democratic primary; Sal Mohamed and Art Small have also declared. If he does so, he’ll face Grassley in next November’s mid-term election.

The Democratic challenger asserted Grassley is partially to blame for the financial crisis because of his backing of a bank deregulation bill a decade ago.

“He was in the forefront of the effort to deregulate the hedge funds, and the insurance companies, and the banks,” Krause said. “And actually, it really set the stage for the entire AIG debacle, the Citibank debacle, the entire thing … They were all a consequence of what Sen. Grassley actively supported. He created this house of cards with his own actions.”

While some have derided the law as ultimately destabilizing the financial sector and providing a partial impetus for the financial crisis, it was supported on both sides of the aisle, passing the Senate 90-8.

Krause largely toes the Democratic line on policy issues. He backs the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier to unionize. In addition, he supports a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions and enacting universal health care.

He said he’s a strong supporter of the economic-stimulus plan, but he was ambiguous when discussing his position on last year’s $750 billion bailout package for the financial system.

While the concept behind the measure was good, “I think it was very poorly drafted,” he said.
Still, he sympathized with lawmakers, who he said were confronted with a “stampede” of people claiming financial collapse if the package failed.

Krause has a varied background. He served in the Iowa House in the 1970s, worked in Jimmy Carter’s administration, and has written five books and additional articles on transportation policy.
The Fairfield resident is also chairman of the Iowa Democratic Veterans Caucus and worked for the Iowa Department of Transportation.

“I was really impressed with his background,” UI sophomore Dane Hudson said, pointing to his grass-roots and national experience. “That’s what we need.”

For his part, Iowa City resident Mark Grunzweig, 51, called Grassley a “very shrewd, wise man,” but was unhappy with his performance.

The long-time senator has “become a patrician,” Grunzweig said, and has been inadequate at supporting the “poorest of the poor” — his top voting priority.

Krause is facing a seemingly insurmountable funding shortfall: Grassley has more than $3 million on hand. As for Krause?

“Trust me, I have substantially less than that,” he said.

Still, Krause remained optimistic, and rejected the notion that Grassley is unbeatable.“I think once the campaign gets momentum, that those kind of problems will take care of themselves,” Krause said of his paucity of campaign money. “In the largest forests, the mightiest oak trees eventually fall to the ground.”

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