Grassley tours Clearline in Traer

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) visits with Lou and Cheryl Rausch of Clearline Industries in Traer. Lou Rausch and the late Rex Betts founded the company in 1978 out of an 800-square-foot building in the country west of Traer. Grassley’s visit counted toward his 99 county tour for 2021. While at Clearline, Grassley toured their manufacturing facility and sat with employees for a round-table discussion. -- Photo by Darvin Graham/NT-Telegraph

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made his second stop in the last four months to Tama County on Jan. 13.

In early September Grassley made a stop in Toledo to meet with local officials and business leaders.

Grassley began a day of county visits in Traer, Iowa with a factory tour and roundtable at Clearline Industries.

Clearline has been a fixture in the Traer community since 1978 when it was founded by Lou Rausch and Rex Betts as a cutlery manufacturer.

Today the company has a workforce of around 20 employees and manufactures blades for food processing equipment and does finishing work on items like motorcycle parts.

Grassley spent the first half of his visit walking through the factory with Rausch, learning how the business operated.

Following the tour, Grassley sat down for a round-table discussion with a group of Clearline employees, a pair of representatives from Farmers Savings Bank and Trust in Traer and Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera.

“I try to have face-to-face meetings with as many constituents as I can in each county,” Grassley said. “For the 40 years I’ve been in the Senate I’ve felt that face-to-face meetings are the best.”

Grassley heard concerns from the group about the political climate and unrest in Washington D.C. as the U.S. House was in session that day to vote on a second impeachment of President Trump.

“If you went by the two most important laws in the Bible, love God and love your neighbor, we wouldn’t have any problem,” Grassley said.

Grassley addressed the Jan. 6 insurrection and said he was primarily concerned with the peaceful transfer of power in days leading up to Jan. 20.

“I believe the president bears some responsibility for what happened,” Grassley said. “With only seven days left in office there obviously isn’t time to go through two or three weeks of impeachment to get rid of him.”

He went on to question whether it would be Constitutional to take up impeachment once Trump has left office.

Farmers Bank and Savings Trust Senior Vice President Jeff Jacobs brought up the most recent COVID-19 relief bill that was passed in late December and the $284 billion Paycheck Protection Program within the bill that is being administered for a second time by the Small Business Administration.

Jacobs said the relief program had been a blessing for a lot of businesses in Tama County and asked Grassley thoughts on how the most recent program would work.

Grassley reviewed some key provisions in the loan program that would better ensure the funds reached businesses with the most need.

“There’s some people that got help from the first bill that maybe didn’t need help,” Grassley said. “We didn’t worry about that at the time.”

Given the rapidly changing and unknown nature of the pandemic early on, Grassley said the Senate did the best they could but that if given the chance to do things again, he would approach some of the pandemic aid differently.

“It’s like we were throwing money out of an airplane,” Grassley said. “We put $600 out for unemployment. We’d never do that again because you’re paying people more not to work than to work.”

Jacobs asked if he thought taxes would go up to pay back the money spent on COVID relief.

“If taxes were going up to pay things back, I think that’s the right thing to do,” Grassley said. “But everybody in Washington D.C. that’s talking about raising takes wants to spend more money.”

Grassley voiced his skepticism about what may come under Democratic control in the next two years.

“Biden says he wants to do away with the 2017 tax bill,” Grassley said. “I don’t see it happening, even with the Democrats controlling the Senate now. If they hadn’t gained those two seats I would say there’s no chance that would be repealed. Now it’s a little more difficult for me to say it. But I don’t think it’s repeal, but maybe some adjustment within it.”

When asked about the prospect of again working alongside veteran politicians like President-elect Biden and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Grassley said he was comfortable and hopeful positive steps to be made.

“I want to concentrate on working with Biden as I was able to in the 30-some years that we served together in the Senate,” Grassley said. “I’ve found that you could work with him. Particularly where he says his major goal is to unify the country. I want to help do that. To get a cabinet in place and if we have disagreements it’ll be on policy.”

After just over an hour with the group in Traer Wednesday morning, Grassley went on to finish out his day with stops in Marshalltown, Belle Plaine and Victor.

The other half of Iowa’s Senate delegation, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), also began a 99 county tour earlier this month. Ernst visited Warren, Clarke and Dallas counties last Monday and expects to be back in Tama County sometime in 2021, though there’s no indication yet where her next county visits will be.