Zaun’s answer to question about farm subsidies

The campaign of Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) is running an ad against Boswell’s Republican opponent, blasting GOP congressional nominee Brad Zaun for saying during a debate that he would do “nothing” for biofuels if he’s elected to congress.

I did a story about what Zaun said about biofuels during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair.  (Short answer: Zaun supports the tax break for ethanol; hasn’t decided whether he supports the tax credit for biodiesel.)

Now, here’s more background on what Zaun said this spring at a Tea Party debate in Des Moines that featured the slew of Republican candidates competing for the GOP’s third district congressional nomination.  First, the question that was posed did not mention biofuels.  Neither ethanol or biodiesel were mentioned.  The questioner asked about farm subsidies:

“I know you’ve touched on ear marks, Medicare, Social Security. You’d cut constitutional spending, as far as limited government, you guys had kind of had all similar things. But let’s talk about hard things to cut: farm subsidies, government pensions, tax reform, things like that. What are you going to do to get the hard things done? I mean, the easy things are simple. I mean, the things that people are going to push back, you got constituents that are going to push back on issues.”

The question went first to Scott Batcher.  When it was Zaun’s turn to speak, this is what he said in response to that question:

Well, I’ll tell you what.  This is something that I’ve had experience.  This is what separates me from everybody that’s running in this race is because I’ve had to make tough decisions.  I’ve had to. 

“I just went up to Grundy Center here not too long ago and a farmer said to me, ‘What are you going to do for me and the biofuels industry?’ And I said, ‘Nothing.’

“I have been in a position in the Iowa Senate and as mayor I’ve been pressured to make those tough decisions.  And you know what, I’m a market-driven person. I’ve told, ‘Listen, your business — I hope you’re successful.  Thank you. Hopefully we’re using less foreign oils, but the fact of the matter is is your business like every business out there has to stand on its own two feet.  When government gets involved and tries to make a business successful, it never works out.

“I try to make a decision and it is tough. You asked it about pensions. I intend to fix pensions. It’s the defined benefit that’s killing us.  That’s what’s killing al of us as taxpayers. You talk about governmental employees paid, in Iowa, it’s 38 percent compared to what it is in the private sector.  Government should always be reflective of what’s going on in the private sector.

“How I make tough decisions?  I try to learn as much as I can. I did it when I was mayor.  Listen, I don’t know everything.  None of us know everything about this, but you go and you research as much as you can, but you’ve always got to go back to the people you represent.

“I make my decisions not based on reelection.  Never have.  I’ve been controversial and what I do is I do what I think is best for everyone that I represent.  You are the people that I work for and I’m not going to change the way I do that.

“Of course there’s times when it’s something that’s morally unacceptable and I want everybody to check me out, find out where I’m at on those issues. But I’m always going to do what I think is right and it’s not going to stop and I’m not going to worry about reelection.  Thank you.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.