Business & Economy
Harkin Aides Launch Summer Listening Tour to Collect Ideas on How to Rebuild the Middle Class in America PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Harkin Press Office   
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 12:45

DES MOINES – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced today that his staff will visit all 99 counties this summer to hear directly from Iowans on how the economy is impacting families across the state.  The listening tour aims to collect ideas for rebuilding the middle class in America– from recent college graduates looking for employment to working Iowans needing to secure their retirement.  The tour, “Rebuilding America’s Middle Class: Stories from Around Iowa,” will begin next week

The Iowa tour builds upon Harkin’s work in Washington, where he is examining the impact of economic policies on the middle class.  In mid-May, Senator Harkin, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, convened his first Committee hearing on this issue entitled, “The Endangered Middle Class: Is the American Dream Slipping Out of Reach for American Families?”  Archived video and testimony from that hearing can be found here.

“As I travel in Iowa and across the country, I hear from more and more hardworking middle class families who feel that the American Dream is slipping away,” said Harkin.  “One thing is certain:  there can be no sustainable economic recovery without the recovery of our middle class.  This listening tour will collect ideas directly from the students, workers, near retirees, and all of those impacted by this economy.”

Each summer, Senator Harkin’s staff visits each Iowa County to talk to Iowans about the issues impacting them and their families.  Staff will then post information on their visits on Senator Harkin’s web site ( Last summer’s tour focused on the positive impact the Americans with Disability Act has had on Iowans as the nation celebrated the law’s 20th anniversary.  To read staff accounts of that tour, click here.

A full list of events is still coming together, but all events will be advised to media by county.

Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee Members Call for Hearing on Balanced Budget Amendment PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 10 June 2011 12:32

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley called on the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, Dick Durbin, to immediately begin holding hearings on a balanced budget amendment.

The letter to Durbin, signed by all Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says that a balanced budget amendment would “put in place a much-needed restraint on runaway Washington spending and protect working Americans from higher taxes.”

“Today of every dollar spent, more than 40 cents is borrowed. Our country is on an unsustainable path,” Grassley said. “It’s time to have an honest and open debate about the fiscal future of our country.”

A balanced budget amendment was last seriously debated in 1997 when the Senate was one vote short of passing the measure.  The budget deficit is now almost 15 times greater than in 1997.

Here is a copy of the text of the letter.  A copy of the signed letter can be found by clicking here.

June 8, 2011

The Honorable Dick Durbin, Chairman
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20150

Dear Chairman Durbin,

Our nation is facing a fiscal crisis that is only getting worse. The national debt, now over $14 trillion, has increased by more than one-third since January 2009. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the deficit for the current fiscal year will be approximately $1.4 trillion and the national debt will soon be larger than the economy. The debt also has implications for our national security. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls the debt "the most significant threat to our national security." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns that the debt "sends a message of weakness internationally."

Therefore, we ask that you immediately hold hearings on S.J. Res. 10, which calls for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. S.J. Res. 10 would also put in place a much-needed restraint on runaway Washington spending and protect working Americans from higher taxes. S.J. Res. 10 is supported by 47 Senators and has the support of numerous grassroots organizations.

Undoubtedly, Washington has a spending problem and this problem is getting worse. The budget deficit is now almost fifteen times the size it was when the Senate came within one vote of passing a balanced budget amendment in 1997. A balanced budget amendment is a measure that is long overdue and whose time has come.

The American people are demanding action from Washington to get our fiscal house in order once and for all.


John Cornyn
Orrin Hatch
Michael Lee
Jon Kyl
Chuck Grassley
Jeff Sessions
Lindsey Graham
Tom Coburn

Cc: The Honorable Patrick Leahy

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Iowa Farm Bureau   
Friday, 10 June 2011 12:26
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – June 8, 2011 – One of the keys to success for a new business is the ability to be innovative and stand out from the crowd. Renew Rural Iowa, an Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) initiative that supports new and existing businesses through education, mentoring and financial resources, is focusing on the power of innovation with a new series of seminars this summer.

The interactive seminars are designed to connect entrepreneurs and economic developers with the newest economic development tools.  At each free seminar, participants will learn about growth strategies from leading Iowa visionaries, discover how new relationships can strengthen economic development efforts and more. Adam Steen, president of the business development firm 25Connections (, will discuss how partnership and collaboration can grow enterprise value.

“Renew Rural Iowa is based on the principle of innovation and encouraging the innovative use of new and existing tools to help make new connections for business growth,” said Sandy Ehrig, IFBF Renew Rural Iowa economic development administrator.

The seminars will be offered at community colleges across the state and run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sessions are free, but registration is encouraged. For more information and to register, visit

The workshops will be held

  • June 15, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge.
  • June 21, Northeast Iowa Community College, Dubuque.
  • June 23, Eastern Iowa Community College, Clinton.
  • June 28, Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs.
  • June 30, Iowa Lakes Community College, Spencer.

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Deputy Agriculture Secretary Announces Opportunity for Midwest Small Business Owners to Learn How to Partner with Federal Departments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Friday, 10 June 2011 12:19
Event in Kansas is Co-Hosted by the Department of Commerce and Supports the White House Initiative on Small Business Contracting

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011-- Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that Midwest small business owners will have an opportunity at a day-long conference later this month to learn how to grow and support their businesses by partnering with USDA, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and other Federal agencies. The meeting, in Kansas, supports the White House Initiative on Small Business Contracting.

Conference attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a full day of workshops and panel discussions led by program and small business procurement officials. Topics include acquisition needs and opportunities, procurement methods, subcontracting opportunities, business development resources, and more. As part of a continuing effort to increase small business contracting participation by enhancing the competitive posture of small businesses and small farmer-owned cooperatives, there will also be a workshop dedicated to contracting opportunities in rural America. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to meet one-on-one with USDA and DOC small business contracting specialists during a half-day "matchmaking" event.

The conference, hosted by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Department of Commerce will be held Tuesday, June 28, 2011, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Overland Park Hotel, 6100 College Boulevard, Overland Park, KS 66211.

There is no conference fee. Pre-registration is preferred with onsite registration available. To register: fax your name, company name, full address, telephone number and email address to (202) 720-3001, or email to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by June 24, 2011. For further information please call 202-720-7117 or

Q&A: Debt Ceiling Debate Should Force Fiscal Responsibility PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 06 June 2011 15:43

Q.  What is the debt ceiling?

A.  The debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow from both the public (such as anyone who buys bonds) and government trust funds (including the Social Security Trust Fund).  The Treasury Department cannot issue any debt above the amount approved by Congress.  The first such debt limit was set in 1917.  In 2010, the debt ceiling was raised by $1.9 trillion to make the current limit $14.294 trillion.  The Treasury Secretary has said that Congress must act to raise the debt ceiling this year by August 2, or risk defaulting on U.S. borrowing obligations.  Until very recently, President Obama argued for raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion without any accompanying conditions for reducing government spending.  The debate then shifted, and in May, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 318 to 97 against such a no-strings-attached increase in the debt ceiling.  Having to consider the debt limit should help Congress control spending and force Congress and the President to take stock of the country’s fiscal situation.

Q.  Why shouldn’t the debt ceiling be raised without spending cuts?

A.  Today, the federal debt and deficits are at record levels.  These obligations inhibit the ability of the U.S. economy to grow and create private-sector jobs.  It also is morally wrong to make the next generation pay the bills for the way we live today.  Americans sent a clear message in the last election that they want government spending reined in.  Today, the need to make sure the federal government doesn’t default by increasing the debt limit should serve as a positive impetus for Congress and the President to commit to meaningful deficit reduction measures.  In fact, continuing to raise the debt ceiling without concrete plans to reduce spending is itself a recipe for disaster.  The inability of Washington to chart a course to bring down federal deficits already resulted in Standard & Poor’s lowering its outlook for America’s long-term credit rating from “stable” to “negative,” for the first time ever, earlier this year.  Serious spending reforms are needed for the sake of America’s fiscal well-being.  Negotiations now are under way between congressional leaders and the White House on an agreement for spending reductions along with an increase in the debt ceiling.  This debate provides a major opportunity to bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to Washington.

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