Newton, Iowa still struggles with flat recovery

NEWTON, Iowa - GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum campaigned in Newton, Iowa today and there he got an earful about the economy. Newton is a town known to CBS News. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley was there for "60 Minutes" just before the Congressional election two years ago.

In 2010, Newton, population 15,000, like the rest of the country was suffering with a flat recovery.

From the 2010 interview, Pelley said, "You know the economists say that the recession is over."

"Really," Dave McNeer responded at the time. "They should come to Newton, Iowa."

Monday, Pelley caught up again with McNeer, owner of a small advertising company.

Dave McNeer, owner of a small advertising company in Newton, Iowa hasn't seen much economic improvement in the past two years.
Dave McNeer, owner of a small advertising company in Newton, Iowa hasn't seen much economic improvement in the past two years.
CBS News

"They're pretty much the same. You know, I mean, people are working harder, people are -- you know, pushing, shoving, dragging, pulling to do whatever you can do," McNeer said. "Tough thing is, this happened to me just the other day, I pull into a gas station, here's a guy that I went to school with working behind the counter of a gas station. I leave the gas station, here's another guy that I went to school with driving a cab."

"People are doing what they have to do to support their families," Pelley said. "Why haven't things improved in the last two years?"

"There's a lot of uncertainty out there," McNeer said. "I don't believe that people feel, you know, we see it in our business a lot have a couple of good months or my customers will have a couple of good months and then everything kinda loses steam again."

Newton lost its steam in 2007 when Maytag closed its factory that employed 5,000 people. The Chrysler dealer, Chevy dealer, and the tractor supply company have hit hard times.

Chaz Allen, party-time mayor hasn't seen a big difference in the new Congress sent to Washington two year ago. "I see we see gridlock."

Watch the original "60 Minutes" report

Gridlock, the mayor says, kills jobs.

For example, the new plant that makes wind turbine blades can't plan ahead unless Congress makes decisions about energy tax credits.

Allen's message to Washington?

"Compromise. Move forward. Policies that are longer than two months or a year. We need to move forward."

Like a lot of folks CBS News has spoken with in Iowa, Mayor Allen and Dave McNeer told us they don't know who they'll vote for.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"