Michele Bachmann has long been a foe of what she believes is excessive federal spending. In her four years in the House of Representatives, Bachmann has been a vocal critic of deficit spending, going as far as to claim that Washington has a “spending addiction.” As part of her presidential campaign, Bachmann has criticized farm subsidies, claiming them as “outrageous pork.”
More recently, Bachmann has walked back from these criticisms. In an interview, Bachmann muted her criticisms of farm subsidies. While she stands by her statements that the federal budget, including farm subsidies, requires major overhauls, she has gone on record as saying that ending all federal farm subsidies would constitute a major revision of over 70 years of agricultural policies, something that she could not commit to voting for at the moment.
A major factor in Bachmann’s change of heart is the schedule of the upcoming presidential primaries. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have scheduled the Iowa caucus as the starting point of their 2012 primaries. Iowa is currently the second largest recipient of federal agricultural spending, leading many candidates to reconsider their previously held stances on agricultural policy.
While these flip flops may seem calculated, Iowa’s place in the presidential primary system demonstrates the importance of agriculture to the national economy. Demographically, the United States is becoming a more urban nation, with fewer citizens engaged in agricultural occupations. In addition, the political power of farm organizations in Congress seems to be declining.
The Iowa caucus, however, gives the agricultural industry, still a vital part of the U.S. economy despite its declining numbers, important leverage in the political process. Potential presidents are forced to consider agricultural issues or risk losing the support of Iowa voters and lose critical momentum in the early stages of a primary campaign.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer