Monday, November 15, 2010

Farm Subsidies And The New GOP

Mary Clare Jalonick had written an interesting piece for The Huffington Post on Sunday - Democrats who had worked hard to get farm subsidies have been elected out of office with Republicans heading to Washington on the promise of cutting spending, but this new breed of conservative was largely quiet on the things that benefit their constituency (as well as their families) - farm subsidies.
Many Republicans who swept rural Democrats from office are now confronting the reality of a promise to reduce spending: Should it cover the farm subsidies that have brought money and jobs to their districts – and directly benefited some GOP lawmakers or their families?

At least 13 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee lost on Nov. 2, and most of then helped steer generous farm support back home. Many of their replacements avoided the issue of farm payments during the campaign as they focused on broader themes of lowering federal spending and changing Washington.

They'll have to face it soon enough. Congress is expected to begin work on the next five-year farm bill before the 2012 election.
Jalonick goes on to discuss just some of the hypocrisy:
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, an outspoken critic of farm payments, listed between $15,000 and $50,000 in farm income as one source of revenue on her personal financial disclosure statement last year, citing a Bachmann family farm in Independence, Wis., as an asset.

That farm, which was owned by her father-in-law, received more than $250,000 in subsidies over the past 15 years, according to the Environmental Working Group. A Bachmann spokesman said she is not involved in any operational decisions.

South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem, who ousted Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, had partial ownership in a ranch that received more than $3 million in subsidies over 15 years, though her family bought her out last year.

Farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher won an open seat House race in Tennessee this year while both railing against federal spending and deflecting criticism that his family had received $3.2 million in federal farm subsidies in the past 10 years.

Whether those members defend farm spending or not, the agriculture sector may be in for cuts when Congress looks at writing the next five-year farm bill, expected by 2012. There probably will be much less money to go around, and Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, in line to be speaker, voted against the last farm bill, saying it was too costly.
This is an issue that Democrats need to sieze on in the next two years - 13 seats are a pretty impressive amount to potentially gain, and hopefully with Obama on the ballot in 2012, Democratic turnout would be greater.  The Democrats would have two options - if the candidates go back on their campaign promises Democrats need to stress the lies and hypocrisy and if they do make good on their promises, cutting spending, Democrats need to point out that they were the ones bringing aid to American farmers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts and experiences in relation to this post. Remember to be respectful in your posting. Comments that that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted.