Iowa Democrats are again criticizing the way Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle is running the U.S. House Budget Committee. Nussle is chairman of that panel, and Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, says this week Nussle engineered rejection of a spending plan that won bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. “The chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Jim Nussle, turned it down,” Harkin says. “Not only did he vote against it, (Nussle) marshalled his power as chairman to crush it on a straight party-line vote.”
Harkin says under Nussle’s leadership, the wealthy get more tax breaks and the nation’s budget deficit has grown so much that “our kids and grandkids will continue to pay interest on that national debt for the remainder of their lives.” That’s not the kind of fiscal track record Iowa’s next governor should have, according to Harkin.
Harkin says six years ago when President Clinton left the White House, the nation had the biggest federal budget surplus in history, but now — after six years with Nussle at the helm of the House Budget Committee — the nation has recorded the biggest federal deficit in history. “There’s political pain in being the budget chairman when you’ll do exactly what George Bush wants and that’s what Mr. Nussle’s doing,” Harkin says. “If he’s feeling pain, that’s his own fault.”
Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Nussle’s gubernatorial campaign, says Harkin is grandstanding.”Today’s grandstanding isn’t surprising from a Democratic team who thinks leadership is a governor who spends the majority of his time campaigning for president, a lieutenant governor who seems to keep a permanent office at Democratic Party headquarters and a United States Senator who prefers Hollywood to Des Moines,” Comella says.
She says there’s ample evidence that Nussle has opposed the president on key issues important to Iowa. “The bottom line is Jim Nussle’s doing the job he was elected to do,” Comella says. For example, she cites Nussle’s rejection of cuts President Bush proposed in Medicaid.
Comella says Nussle also is trying to reinstate federal grants that Iowa police and sheriff’s departments have used to hire officers to work on drug cases. “He secured critical funding for Iowa law enforcement,” Comella says. Nussle said two years ago that he had no plans to step down as chairman of the House Budget Committee in order to focus on his campaign to become Iowa’s next governor.