Meet the New Welfare Queens
Cenk Uygur with The Dylan Ratigan Show's Daily Rant on the Republican welfare queens. Looks like Cenk might have caught this article by NPR.
"They are here to represent their districts, and if their district is clearly a strong agricultural district that uses the programs in the farm bill, it may be something where they have to break with what they campaigned on," says Chandler Goule, a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union.
For some deficit-cutting Republicans, it's a question that's close to home.
Consider Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, who courted tea party support and dethroned the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton.
Hartzler and her husband own a farm equipment business and a farm where they grow corn and soybeans. She received more than $770,000 in farm subsidies over the past 15 years, according to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington advocacy group that collects and analyzes farm subsidy data.
While promising to cut what she called wasteful spending, Hartzler says protecting farmers is a national security issue because the decline of farms could mean more imported food.
"There are fewer and fewer farmers today so it makes them more of an easy target than others," she says. "American consumers have a vested interest in making sure we have a safe and reliable food supply that is home grown."
Still, she believes some programs may need to be cut.
"There's a benefit to keeping that food safety net there, but we need to look at all discretionary spending and ask the hard questions," she says.
Crop insurance — it costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year — is an effective way to give farmers the security they need when weather ruins a harvest, Hartzler said. She suggests the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle environmentally sensitive land, may have to go.
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.
And then there's welfare queen, Cubs owner Joe Ricketts -- The Ricketts family is against “wasteful government spending” unless it helps make them rich:
Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts dislikes government spending so much that he spent over a half a million dollars of his own money to fight against it. According to the Huffington Post (HuffPo) Ricketts was the “sole financier of the Ending Spending Fund” which invested nearly $600,000 into the Nevada US Senate race against Majority Leader Harry Reid.
HuffPo also points out that the fund is the political arm of a new nonprofit called Taxpayers Against Earmarks, which is "dedicated to educating and engaging American taxpayers about wasteful government spending and the misguided practice of earmarks."
Its funny that Joe Ricketts is so passionate against “wasteful government spending” when his family, led by son, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, has just asked the people of Illinois to borrow $300 million in a bond offering so that it can rehab Wrigley Field. This request follows a vote in Mesa, AZ which guaranteed the Cubs $84 million in public funds to build a new spring training stadium and facility.
Does Joe Ricketts think its a crime that the family business will collect $84 million from one government body, while asking for $300 million from another?