The mayors of Iowa’s two largest cities joined this morning in an event a national group led by Democrats designed to poke at Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. But rather than demand that Grassley support the economic stimulus plan President-elect Barack Obama and Democrats in congress are developing, Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran seemed conciliatory.
"I’m not sure that Senator Grassley is being targeted," Halloran said. "I think that we’re looking for whatever will help, in my case, a flood-impacted city in the state of Iowa."
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, the other mayor on today’s telephone conference call, failed to let loose with a verbal diatribe against Grassley. Instead, Cownie focused on the general need for a new federal stimulus package. "We’re talking about…building a new economy, having permanent jobs, immediate jobs and stimulating this economy in the 12- to 24- to 36-month time frame with employment that not only is for today, but lasts longterm," Cownie said.
Both Cownie and Halloran are Democrats. The Democratic-led group called "The Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery Now" issued a news release labeling Grassley as the "potential deciding vote to pass the Obama economic recovery plan." When asked about that statement, Cownie stopped short of making any demands and instead praised Grassley as an "influential" senator.
"Senator Grassley is the most senior of our delegation and I think it’s incumbent upon us to reach out to him specifically today as we are and going to continue with all the members of our delegation that know what Iowa needs, what our cities need and how we can help our economy recover through actions that we take at the local level," Cownie said.
Halloran followed up by heaping praise on both Grassley and Senator Tom Harkin. "It has been my experience…since the floods that our senators from the state of Iowa have been very instrumental," Halloran said. "…They understand what our needs are."
Earlier this morning during a telephone conference call with Iowa reporters, Grassley said there is no Obama stimulus plan today. "There isn’t anything on paper except the general statements that (Obama) has made," Grassley said. "I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re going to pass a stimulus package." Grassley has begun working behind the scenes with the Democrat who leads the Senate tax-writing committee to try to add tax breaks to the package which Grassley argues will stimulate the economy just as much as government spending on public works projects.