High gasoline prices are getting part of the blame for Iowa-based Winnebago shuttering its RV factory in Charles City, eliminating 270 jobs. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he recalls serving in Congress during the energy crisis of the mid-1970s with former Winnebago president John Hanson.
"He said there’s three things about the American people he knew that they weren’t going to give up: sex, beer and weekends," Grassley says. "People are going to be able to make sure that they have are going to have their weekends retreats. Gas is high today but I doubt if it’s going to be a problem long-term for Winnebago."
Grassley, a Republican, says all things are cyclical, and while times are forcing that employer, and many others, to make deep cuts at the moment, there will eventually be a rebound. He says, "With 77-million baby boomers going into retirement, there’s great hope for Winnebago. Temporarily, they get laid off at the Charles City plant. It’s obviously a crisis for those who are being laid off but I think that the energy situation will work out here."
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating speculation in markets, Grassley says, while there’s a heavy push for alternative fuels and conservation. He says environmentalists have a "stranglehold" on the Democratic Party, as no one from that party voted in favor of a recent proposal to step up drilling in the U.S., including in Alaska.
Grassley says at the 17 town halls meetings he conducted in the last few weeks, the subject of gas prices was brought up every time. "I think it is funny that the outrage that we’re having over high gasoline prices, that there’s not more of that outrage changing votes in Washington D.C. to make sure we can drill where there are sources of oil here," Grassley says. "It’s better to drill here, keep the money in the United States instead of sending it over to those Arab countries so they can shoot back at us."
Triple-A-Iowa says the statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline is now $3.87, down a penny from the all-time high set on May 31st of this year.