By Senator Tom Harkin

Medicare is one of the real cornerstones of our middle class way of life in Iowa.  Thanks to Medicare, people of all walks of life have the peace of mind of knowing that, in their senior years, they will have guaranteed access to quality medical care.  We have always assumed that Medicare was something rock solid and permanent.  Unfortunately, there are some who want to end Medicare as we know it.  

Last month, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a budget that has profound implications for every American - but especially for seniors.  It calls for deep funding cuts to education and Medicaid, and it effectively ends the Medicare program. In its place, Republicans would give future seniors a voucher that they can use to purchase a private health insurance plan.  Our nation must find ways to address our nation's financial situation, but this proposal is absolutely unacceptable.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, under this proposal, future seniors will have to pay two-thirds of the cost of their health insurance by 2030.  Those out-of-pocket costs will average more than $12,000 per person per year - more than double the current cost to seniors.  How is an elderly widow or widower struggling to live on a fixed income going to come up with $12,000 for health insurance?  Even worse, many seniors - especially those with serious health conditions - simply won't be able to find a health insurer that will offer an affordable plan.  This is simply not right - especially when people have paid into Medicare their entire life and count on it to deliver comprehensive health benefits.  

Many will say that those currently on Medicare will not be affected and that Americans 55 and older will be able to keep their current Medicare coverage.  That's a woefully short-sighted argument.  What will happen to the children and grandchildren of those currently on Medicare?  This cynical argument assumes that seniors don't care about the next generation, and in talking to Iowans about this issue, this is not true.  Frankly, in my opinion, the proposal to dismantle Medicare is not just unworkable and unfair; it is unconscionable.  

This is not meant to be a scare tactic, but a call to action.  I know Iowans will not stand for this unwise, unbalanced, unfair assault on their economic security and middle-class way of life.  The Republicans' proposed Medicare cut hasn't come before the Senate yet, and I will do everything I can to stop it.  I will do everything I can to protect the security and health of today's seniors, and all Americans who will one day turn to Medicare.  And I encourage all Iowans to voice their opposition to eliminating Medicare.

For more information, please feel free to visit my website at or contact any of my offices in Washington, D.C. or Iowa.

Davenport, IA (May 2011) ? On Thursday, May 19, the Figge says 'bon voyage' to two works from the collection that will soon go on loans to other institutions for upcoming exhibitions. Bruce Carter, host of WVIK's Art Talks, will lead an Art Talk at 7pm about Mrs. Chase in Pink by William Merritt Chase and Liz Taylor by Andy Warhol before they go on their summer vacations.

The Art Talk will explore the differences in the two featured paintings.  Figge staff will also talk briefly on how loans increase national and international visibility for the Figge and its collection.  Guests will be invited to take part in a special Thursdays at the Figge free art activity; inspired by Andy Warhol's vibrantly colored lithographic print of Elizabeth Taylor, guests can design their own portrait using a simple printing process.

Mrs. Chase in Pink will be loaned to The Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for their summer exhibition, William Merritt Chase: Family Portraits (June 18 to October 9, 2011).  The exhibition focuses on his portraits of his wife and children and will feature two dozen of his works, loaned from both public and private institutions.

Andy Warhol's Liz Taylor will be included in Warhol and the Diva (June 25 - September 25, 2011), an exhibition at The Lowery in Manchester, UK, coordinated in part by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The exhibition focuses on Warhol's depictions of some of the most iconic performance figures of the 20th century, including Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minnelli and Mick Jagger. It also explores' Warhol's identity as a diva, focusing on his transformation within his Self Portrait in Drag series.

This is not the first time that works from the Figge collection have been loaned to other institutions for major exhibitions.  This past October, one of the Figge's most treasured Mexican Colonial paintings, Baltasar de Echave Rioja's La Adoración de los Magos (The Adoration of the Maji), traveled to the Prado and the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain to be part of the exhibition Painting of the Kingdoms-Shared Identities and is now on view in Mexico City as part of an exhibition of the same name at the Museo Palacio Cultural Banamex (Antiguo Palacio de Iturbide).

To learn more about the La Adoración de los Magos's trip to Spain and to see an image of the Queen Sofia of Spain at the Palacio Real de Madrid with the Curator, Jonathan Brown, NYU, with the Figge's La Adoracioìn de los Magos in the background visit:

To learn more about the Figge's Thursdays at the Figge program, visit:



In honor of the great sacrifices all our veterans have made, the German American Heritage Center is offering free admission to the Center on Armed Forces Day, May 21, and on Memorial Sunday, May 29.


By showing identification, veterans may see our award-winning Immigration Experience Exhibit and step in the shoes of long ago immigrants as they tell their stories.


The Center is located at 712 West 2nd Street, Davenport (at the foot of the Centennial Bridge). Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM and Sunday 12:00 - 4:00 PM.  Cost for Non-veterans: Adults $5.00; Adults over 60 $4.00; Children 5-17 $3.00. Members are free.

Quilts of the Civil War Becky Wright, Presenter

Sunday, June 12, 2:00 p.m.

Becky Wright of Mt. Pleasant is a quilter, designer and owner of Orphans of War quilt patterns.  Her life-long love of history, especially the Civil War era, has led to researching and sharing her passion with others.  Becky appears in period costume; the main focus of her presentation is the importance of quilts and textiles during the Civil War.  Starting with the facts of the early history of textiles and sewing in the 1800's she leads the audience to the beginning of the conflict, tells how quickly the textile industry was impacted and explains the role it played in the war.  Becky's talk is enriched by a large display of antique quilts and reproduction quilts, vintage clothing, books and other artifacts.  Of special interest is an authentic quilt handcrafted by a German immigrant who served in the Union Army and sewed this quilt during his recovery from battle wounds.  This is an outstanding companion program to the first floor exhibit at GAHC in June and July, "Iowa in Civil War: The German Element."


This is a GAHC Special Event and will not be announced in the Infoblatt.  GAHC members may attend at no charge, but must obtain one ticket per member at the GAHC reception desk at the Center.  Members may also send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the GAHC office for ticket requests, which will be honored one per member.  We ask your kind cooperation in not phoning to request tickets.  Please respond early and alert your GAHC friends who may not receive this electronic message.  Public sale of tickets will begin on May 31, 2011 at $8.00 each.   Seating is limited - act promptly!

Questions may be directed or phone (563) 322-8844.


Dr. Egon W. Gerdes, Executive Director
German American Heritage Center

German American Heritage Center
712 W Second Street
Davenport, Iowa 52802

Washington, DC - May 17, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after officials reported that Pvt. 2 Alexander Meyer, an Iowa National Guard soldier from Ainsworth, was wounded by gunfire in Afghanistan:

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Alexander and his family. As he begins his recovery in Germany, I hope he knows we're all pulling for him. This has been a very difficult time for all Iowans and the entire National Guard family. My heart goes out to all these brave young men and women and their families."


Three Iowans were killed in Afghanistan in April.


Amana - Dinner and a show, what can be better? Especially if the dinner is a delicious buffet and the show a bittersweet love story performed by The Old Creamery Theatre Company at Fireside Winery, in rural Marengo.

Sounds too good to be true, but come Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 pm, Fireside Winery will serve up a dinner buffet complete with assorted salads, shrimp scampi, bacon wrapped pork loin in a plum sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with almonds and a mixed berry stack for dessert.

The Old Creamery Theatre will take to the stage at 7:30 p.m. for Love Letters, a love story that traces the lifelong correspondence of Andrew and Melissa, two very different people who care deeply for one another. Their relationship spans decades and comes to life through their letters to one another. Love Letters features Tom Milligan and Deborah Kennedy of The Old Creamery Theatre.

Tickets for dinner and the show are $40 per person and will include a free glass of wine of choice. To purchase tickets and make reservations, call Fireside Winery (319) 662-4222. Tickets are non refundable and the event will be held rain or shine.

Love Letters will also be performed at Fireside Winery on Saturday, July 23 and Thursday, July 28. The dinner buffet will again be served but the menu will vary. Call Fireside Winery for details.

Fireside Winery is a locally owned family winery in rural Marengo on P Avenue (County Rd V77) between Highway 6 and the I - 80 Williamsburg exit, across the road from the Conroy First Lutheran Church. Complete directions can be found on the website at

The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. The company is celebrating 40 years of bringing live, professional theatre to the people of Iowa and the Midwest.

EVANSVILLE, IN (05/17/2011)(readMedia)-- The University of Evansville is proud to announce that Andrea Solomonson of Orion, IL, has achieved a place on the Dean's List.

Solomonson, a Management major, made the Dean's List for academic achievements during the Spring Semester 2011. To make the Dean's List, a student at UE must earn at least a 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

"At the University of Evansville, students experience a rigorous curriculum built on exposure to great ideas, timeless themes, significant questions, and multiple perspectives," said UE President Thomas A. Kazee. "Earning a place on the Dean's List shows incredible commitment to academic achievement, and students such as Andrea Solomonson and their families should be incredibly proud of this accomplishment."

Grassley Comment on Wasteful Spending at Public Housing Authorities

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been tracking wasteful spending at public housing authorities including those in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico.  He made the following comment on an audit released today, showing the Philadelphia Housing Authority wasted millions of dollars from the federal stimulus package.  The audit is available here.

"This audit is the latest example of the Philadelphia Housing Authority's, and ultimately HUD's, failure to protect residents and taxpayers.  The housing authority has been a Bermuda Triangle for tax dollars. The primary people being helped are shady developers and law firms.  It's frustrating to see such blatant abuse of tax dollars.  The stimulus act included $4 billion for public housing agencies nationwide.  The millions of stimulus dollars wasted in Philadelphia call into question whether the rest of the $4 billion was wasted just as badly.  The Philadelphia Housing Authority is the fourth-largest in the country, and it paid millions of dollars to outside law firms to obstruct inspector general audits.  If other housing agencies are as troubled, and with the Obama administration's requiring little accountability for spending, we might never know whether stimulus money for housing was spent as intended or how much went down the drain."

Grassley Presses Agency for Answers on Wireless Network Project

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is seeking disclosure and transparency from the Federal Communications Commission about a new wireless Internet network project that appears on a fast track for approval from the agency, despite concerns about the impact on other technologies and possible financial problems behind the operation.

"This project is controversial for two reasons.  One, there are questions about whether it will block GPS technology, which is important to agriculture and other industries.  Two, the principal behind this project is said to be under investigation by another agency for his financial dealings," Grassley said.  "The FCC's unusual fast-tracking of this project before its effects have been fully tested raises questions about whether the agency did its due diligence.   I'm looking for answers to these questions so taxpayers can be assured that the government is treating public property the way it ought to be treated.   So far, the FCC hasn't provided any of the information I've requested.  It should, in the interest of transparency in doing the public's business."

Grassley recently wrote to the FCC, asking for information related to the agency's consideration of the LightSquared project, which various industries warn would produce signals that could jam existing navigation systems used in farming, air travel, law enforcement, by the military and in general consumer navigation.  The head of the hedge fund behind the project told investors that his firm is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegations of market manipulation, according to media reports.  The firm has been the subject of considerable media attention for losing large amounts of money and other controversies including whether the firm should have told investors in a timely fashion about a $113 million loan it extended to the principal of the firm.

Grassley has not received the information he requested from the FCC.  "This is an agency with a lot of power over public air waves," Grassley said.  "I'll continue to ask for information in the public's interest."

This week, officials in the Las Vegas area say GPS could be unavailable as LightSquared technology is tested, causing concern for military operations and other non-commercial pilots.

The FCC has granted a conditional waiver for LightSquared to proceed with its wireless network.  A coalition of groups has objected to what it considers the unprecedented speed with which the FCC is allowing the company to move forward.

The text of Grassley's letter to the FCC is available here.

Grassley Urges Action for Keystone Pipeline with Canada

Senator Says the Decision is Important for American Consumers Paying High Gas Prices

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley is urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on the international Keystone XL pipeline project.

"Consumers need action on high gas prices, and we ought to move forward on this project." Grassley said about his letter to Clinton.  "Canada is a steady and reliable neighbor.  The pipeline needs to be built safely and responsibly.  And, whether or not the United States approves the project, the oil will be produced in Canada, and if it doesn't come to the United States, then China likely will get it.  So, this project is one thing the administration can be doing and should be doing to increase the supply of energy and thereby reduce prices at the pump for consumers."

The Keystone XL pipeline was approved more than a year ago by the Canadian National Energy Board.  It would provide 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day and help to counteract both insufficient domestic oil supplies in the United States and reduce dependence on less reliable foreign sources, including Venezuela, Libya or OPEC members.


Moline, Illinois - May 17, 2011 - Are you nervous, hesitant, or embarrassed to answer your child's questions about sex? If so, learn new ways in which to provide your child with accurate information related to making responsible decisions regarding early sexual activity and its ramifications. Attend a parent meeting, entitled Know What to Say, to discover how to answer your child's questions about sex in an age-appropriate, yet open and honest manner. Workshops will be held on:

§  Edgerton Women's Health Center                   Tuesday, May 24,2011                6:30 PM

1510 Rusholme Street

Davenport, Iowa


§  Bethany for Children & Families                      Thursday, May 26, 2011              6:30 PM

1830 6th Avenue

Moline, Illinois

Know What to Say, now in its fifth year, is a teen pregnancy prevention strategy provided by Bethany for Children & Families in collaboration with Edgerton Women's Health Center and Scott County Health Department.  This program, funded by the Iowa Department of Human Services, through the Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Grant, provides parents, school staff members, and other concerned community members with informational workshops/trainings designed to help children postpone early sexual activity in an effort to avoid teen pregnancy and its consequences. Through this program participants will be provided with:

§  Accurate and current information on how to effectively communicate with their children/students about sex and its consequences;

§  Tools and techniques on how to effectively listen to their children/students;

§  Increased comfort level in talking with children/students about sex; and

§  Increased likelihood of talking to their children/students about sex.

Cognizant of the fact that the teen birth rate in both Rock Island County in Illinois and Scott County in Iowa is higher than the respective state rates, Mary Ann McLeod, Division Director of Community Services at Bethany for Children & Families, says "To prepare children for the future, it can no longer be "The Talk", but an ongoing interchange between parents and children of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and accurate information related to sex." Additionally, says McLeod, "In a society where youth are continuously barraged by sexual messages from the media, internet, and cell phones, parents must be the first to provide open, honest, and ongoing conversations with their children about sex and the impact it will have on their lives."


I'd like to thank the Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee for holding today's hearing about security and commerce at the northern border.  Border security is a critical issue that this body needs to constantly assess and improve.  The number one responsibility of Congress is to protect the homeland, and we must not turn a blind eye to the realities of illegal activity that is seen every day along the southern and northern borders.

Before I delve into the issues, I want to take a moment to thank all those who serve our country every day to protect the borders.  We are saddened by the recent loss of Border Patrol Agents Eduardo Rojas, Jr., and Hector Clark, who were killed last Thursday near Gila Bend, Arizona.  We pray for every agent's safety as they put their lives on the line and we share our gratitude for their dedicated service to our country.

It's been five months since Special Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed while on duty in Arizona.  His family still has not fully received answers as to what happened in the shootout with a roving band of illegal immigrants, although a recent indictment issued in the case confirmed information I had previously received that two of the guns those criminals were using were a part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Operation Fast and Furious.  The ATF failed to stop those weapons from being transferred to the bandits at the scene of the shootout with Agent Terry.  One thing is clear?our borders are far less safe with the ATF having allowed well over a thousand firearms to end up in the hands of straw purchasers.  These cartels make our borders an increasingly more and more dangerous place each day.

When you hear stories of Agents Rojas, Clark, Terry, and others, it's hard to accept Secretary Napolitano's word that the border is more secure today than ever.  The Border Patrol Council - the union that represents agents - even said the Secretary's statements are "wrong and give citizens a false sense of security."  And, the facts are against her.  An independent study from the Government Accountability Office says that only 873 of the 2,000 miles separating U.S. and Mexico are under "operational control."

I'm also concerned by a recent Government Accountability Office report that emphasizes the significant threat posed by illegal crossing on our federal lands.  Our national parks and forests are vulnerable because of the lack of law enforcement presence and because of their rugged terrain.  On the Northern Border, the Spokane sector is the primary entry point for air smugglers of high-potency marijuana.  Yet, there's insufficient agency coordination to share intelligence or to develop joint budget requests or strategies to address these threats.

We have more than drugs and guns crossing our borders. We have human smuggling and trafficking.  And, we have more than just Mexicans wanting to make a better life for themselves and their families.  So far in fiscal 2011, we have apprehended over tens of thousands of "Other Than Mexicans" at the southern and northern borders.  We cannot let down our guard.  Lest we forget that the so called "millennium bomber" who sought to unleash a terrorist attack at the Los Angeles Airport was captured at our northern border with a car full of high powered explosives.  This is just another example of why we must remain vigilant against terrorists plotting against all our borders and points of entry.

Congress passed a $600 million border security bill in 2010, but this investment is only a down payment on what we really need to do.  The funding, paid by fees from high tech companies, has only amounted to $61 million since August.  That means the executive branch is collecting about $6.8 million each month.  If that rate were to continue, we'll only have $325.4 million collected over four years.  That's just 54 percent of the $600 million investment that we promised the American people.  And, unfortunately, this funding does nothing to complete a double layer fence in badly needed areas.

The 2010 border bill also didn't address Operation Streamline, a program that charges individuals who have crossed the border illegally with a misdemeanor and those who re-enter after deportation with significant jail time.  Operation Streamline, a fast-track program, resolves a federal criminal case with prison and deportation consequences in approximately two days or less.  This program can serve as a deterrent against future illegal immigration in existing Border Patrol sectors.

Also ignored is the exit-entry control system that was mandated in 1996 to track every foreign national who arrives and departs the United States.  Since then, due in part to the recommendations put forth by the 9/11 Commission, Congress has called on the Department of Homeland Security to develop a system that matches biometric information of an alien against relevant watch lists and immigration information.  This biometric data is also supposed to be compared against manifest information collected by air carriers so that the federal government can confirm that foreign nationals have departed the country as required.  After fifteen years and several serious terrorist attacks against citizens of the United States, administration after administration has failed to fully implement a biometric air exit system.  It is unacceptable that progress on the exit portion of US-VISIT has stalled despite congressional funding and several pilot projects.

The President has touted the success of the previous administration's achievement in doubling the Border Patrol, and this Congress is committed to maintaining these levels of personnel.  But, I'm seriously concerned about the President's mixed message, saying that a legalization program is in the best interest of our economy and our security.  Secretary Napolitano touts this administration's record number of deportations, but even the Washington Post disputed these figures, alleging they cooked the books to make them appear enforcement-minded.  While I realize this is a hearing focused on border issues, I hope Mr. Morton will address the fuzzy math and so-called record statistics, and share with members the challenges his officers face in enforcing the laws on the books when aliens bypass our border patrol.

Again, thank you for holding this hearing today.  I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.