Following a tour of the facility, Sen. Chuck Grassley held a Q&A session with employees of Premier Tooling and Manufacturing in Peosta where they discussed everything from election integrity to the long-serving lawmaker’s favorite pork tenderloin, Jan. 12.
The future of manufacturing in the United States was an area of concern for several employees who were apprehensive about any potential changes that could be made by the incoming Joe Biden Administration.
One employee who calculates the costs and profitability for Premier said without the tariffs put in place by President Donald Trump, American companies couldn’t compete with the low Chinese labor and material costs.
The fear is now that Biden will remove those tariffs and that many of the people who will be negotiating international business deals also have interests in foreign businesses.
Grassley said while these players have some influence in the negotiation process, the power ultimately lies with Congress.
“I think the new administration is not going to defer too much from what Trump has done in negotiations with China and the tariffs,” Grassley said, adding he thinks the $350 billion in current tariffs will remain in place.
Grassley believes Biden will approach the situation differently than Trump, saying instead of it just being Trump vs. China, Biden will likely assemble a coalition of European, North American and a few Asian countries to form a “frontal assault” against China.
Being the discussion was held at a manufacturing business, it was mentioned that the U.S. was the global manufacturing leader until 2010, when more and more of the jobs were shipped south of the border or overseas.
At one time, American manufacturing jobs were difficult to get, but now there is currently a shortage of 7.6 million skilled workers. This has left a lot of manufacturers worried about what will happen if the next generation doesn’t view the sector as a good career option.
Grassley thinks the public perception is beginning to shift: 30 years ago, he said, people thought you were never going to amount to anything unless you held a Bachelor’s degree. Now people are realizing there are stable and profitable careers that don’t require a four-year degree and these people also have a leg up by not being saddled with debt as they are entering the job market.
Grassley said there is currently an effort to familiarize high school students with these career paths and also trying to create some non-degree classroom education at the community college level to help create more skilled laborers.
He said, looking forward, another priority of his as a senator is to get a Biden cabinet established quickly and to strive toward more bipartisanship.
Grassley and Biden have served together in some capacity for over three decades and, during their time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley said Biden was someone he could work with regardless of which party was in control.
Grassley feels there are going to be more challenges for Biden in his presidential role, citing the compromises that had to be made to get Sen. Bernie Sanders to back him following the Democratic primary.
“I think he’s going to have a lot of pressure within his own political party that maybe would make it a little more difficult for him to work in a bipartisan way,” Grassley said. “On the other hand, with the House of Representatives only having a 10-member difference between Democrats and Republicans and the Senate being evenly divided, nothing is going to get done if there aren’t some compromises.”
Grassley added that calls from both sides of the aisle saying compromise is never acceptable is unrealistic.
When Trump’s second impeachment by the House of Representatives was brought up, Grassley answered he does not support it, agreeing with one employee that it was a “waste of time.”
He added while he supported Trump, he didn’t always agree with the way he went about things.
“I liked his policies and I’m sad he can’t continue them because I think there’s a new group coming to town that will try to undo some of the things he did.”
He said Trump is one of the few presidents who ran on a platform that he ultimately executed.
“That’s the approach I respect, even though he did a heck of a lot of things that should have been done differently.”
Grassley also thinks individual states should now be looking to strengthen election procedures to help restore faith in the system following the controversies surrounding the 2020 election.
“It seems to me that there’s plenty of irregularity, in some cases fraud, that ought to concern everybody,” Grassley said. “When you lose your confidence in the electoral process, that has to be corrected, but as it turns out when it’s all said and done, last Wednesday we held the Electoral Vote and that’s what the Constitution requires and Biden was elected president.”
He added while there were things that went wrong in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, there wasn’t enough of it to change the vote.
With most of the electoral process being dictated by individual states, he wants to encourage every state to secure the process to return people’s faith.
“If every state did it like Iowa did, I don’t think there would have been this loss of confidence.”
In a speech Grassley gave on the Senate floor in December 2020, he railed against the national media for falsely claiming he and Senator Johnson were peddling Russian disinformation, or outright denying it was a story to begin with, in regards to the Biden family’s financial dealings.
And in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, Grassley said social media companies were going out of their way to censor the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden.
“Simply said, they interfered in the election and gave the Biden campaign a multi-million-dollar in-kind donation courtesy of their blatant and unforgiveable censorship,” Grassley said. “My fellow Americans, let us never forget what Twitter and Facebook did during the 2020 election. Fast forward to today, now it’s confirmed that Hunter Biden is under criminal investigation reportedly for his taxes and financial dealings – the very fact pattern that we described in our report.”
With social media companies having recently banned Trump from several platforms, the conversation about changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is gaining more traction. The section states “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,” which gives them a broad range of protections if they aren’t acting as a publisher.
Grassley does not foresee a complete repeal of Section 230, but he said, if given a chance, he would vote to get rid of it.
Grassley said some of that conversation will be taking place in the Judiciary Committee and it’s likely that the result will end up being somewhere in-between what is in place now and what Trump has been pushing for.
Grassley also supports the push to appoint a special counsel to look into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, but he said if that were to happen it would need to happen soon.