Staff Columnist

Make 'em squeal?

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) looks on as Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services for
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) looks on as Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) testifies in a hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on opportunities and challenges for agriculture trade with Cuba in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Senator Joni Ernst wants to stick it to politicians who use their office for profit. That’s right, Ernst is tired of taxpayers footing the bill for expensive travel, security and vacations on behalf of politicians who aren’t doing their jobs. Enough is enough, says the Republican senator who has made rooting out corruption a cornerstone of her campaign.

This month, the senator won a major milestone for her “Make ‘Em Squeal” platform, passing the “presidential perks” bill through the House. The bill would limit taxpayer-funded perks for presidents, which include their travel, personal staff, office space and communications, after they leave office. The bill would also put a president’s pension at $200,000 per year.

It’s great to see the senator taking such a bold stance on the corruption and profiteering that’s happening in the highest halls of power. Or wait, sorry, this is only for former presidents. I guess, while you are in the White House you are free to profiteer at will.

That’s right, while our sitting president proposed hosting the G7 summit at one of his failing resorts and openly violates the Constitution by withholding aid for political favors from Ukraine, Ernst is making sure Jimmy Carter doesn’t profit too much while he builds houses for the homeless.

Ernst has come out strongly condemning the Clintons and the Obamas. Noting in a statement, “Former presidents rake in millions from speaking engagements, Netflix deals, and other big money windfalls once they leave office; but, believe it or not, taxpayers continue to foot the bills for the unlimited perks they still benefit from, like travel expenses and office space. That’s simply ridiculous.”

She wants to “make ‘em squeal,” but really Ernst is just carrying the slop to the trough.


It’s a bold stance. One Ernst has been lauded for. But when you ask Ernst about the actual corruption in the White House? It’s crickets. That’s simply ridiculous.

What a time for irony. Politicians who rose to power promising to drain the swamp are now drowning in the sewer water of their own corruption. Ernst, a bold reformer who wants to root out government pork, is ignoring the snorting herd of 30-50 feral hogs in her own party. She wants to “make ‘em squeal,” but really Ernst is just carrying the slop to the trough.


Ernst hasn’t addressed impeachment. Instead, when asked at town halls or by reporters, she usually pivots to talking about farmers. She’s doing what I like to call the “Iowa side-step.” When faced with a hard question, you talk about corn or Busch Light until no one remembers what the question was. It’s the political equivalent of when your mom offers everyone cookie bars after your brother-in-law decides to dunk on feminists at Thanksgiving.

This month, Ernst stood inside a barn on a bale of hay to declare that the president “... really cares about farmers.” This same president whose trade policies have gutted soy and corn prices and knee-capped the ethanol industry. Saying he cares about farmers is like saying serial killers really care about women — they care in the sense they can prey on them, feed off their flesh and feign regret later.

Like most of Iowa’s Republican politicians, Ernst says she’s focusing on what Iowans care about. Which, if we go by her own legislative actions, that would mean Iowans care about rooting out corruption in politics.

Or wait, did I say corruption? Have a cookie bar.

Comments: (319) 368-8513;

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.