Barack Obama interview in Iowa

Barack Obama conducted an interview with the Muscatine Journal on his weekend visit to Iowa. It's always good to have a solid grass roots local paper doing interviews with candidates. Doesn't happen often enough.

By Melissa Regennitter of the Muscatine Journal
MUSCATINE, Iowa — After his speech at West Middle School on Sunday, Barack Obama sat down with the Muscatine Journal for a one-on-one interview. Here are excerpts from that meeting:

Q: We always hear people talk about Midwestern values, as you did throughout your speech. What are Midwestern values, in your opinion?

A: I do think that Midwesterners are sort of no-nonsense, not a lot of hoopla. They don’t think in ideological terms, but think more in terms of how to solve problems. Now obviously these are huge generalizations, but I do think that there’s a certain sensibility that is healthy.

Q: The Iowa Legislature is considering a “fair share” bill. What is your stand on such legislation? (The bill would require employees at unionized workplaces to pay fees to a union if they are not union members.)

A: We need to restore some balance in terms of enabling unions to organize. I think that unions have been under assault for many years. A lot of that has been taking place at the federal level; it’s one of the reasons that I support the Employee Free Choice Act.... There’s a reason why we’ve seen growing inequality in this country and salaries and wages stagnating at a time when corporate profits and productivity have gone sky high, and it’s because workers are getting less of a share of what they are helping them create.Our middleclass in this country has always been built on making sure the prosperity is shared and the burdens and benefits of a free market are shared. I think unions today are an important part of it.

Q: Do you believe the federal government should play a role in school security? (Obama was briefed on local concerns regarding unfounded bomb threats at area schools and the arrest of a student who made online threats last year toward Muscatine High School.)

A: I do think that it’s important for us to have good systems in place to deal with what may be serious threats in terms of homeland security and creating systems where first responders can communicate with each other and have the equipment they need, those are important issues. But for the most part, I trust local law enforcement to deal with the kind of problems you’re talking about.

Q: Regarding the DREAM Act that is being considered by Congress: Do you support it? (The DREAM Act would allow undocumented immigrant students the opportunity to gain permanent residence status if they have lived in the United States for at least five years, and were younger than the age 16 when they came to the country.)

A: I believe in comprehensive immigration reform. I think we have to have border security (and) a tamper-proof employee verification system that ensures employers are held accountable for who they hire. With those two things in place, I think it’s also important for us to have a pathway to citizenship for the12 million or so undocumented workers who are here.I think that most Americans believe that it’s important to have some control over who comes in and who comes out of the country, and we don’t have that right now. But I think that people also believe ... that families who have been here a long time, whose children weren’t born here and have gone through the school system, that we need to give them a chance to be part of the American dream, although if they want citizenship they’ll have to probably go to the back of the line. Under the legislation we provide for, they would have to pay a fine and learn English and take a series of steps over the course of a decade before they would actually be eligible for citizenship.