Elections & Campaigns: Fiorina Says Rural Needs Deregulating

Republican Carly Fiorina says the best way to help rural America is to get the federal government out of agriculture, environmental regulation, communications policy, and … well, just about everything except infrastructure.
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Carly Fiorina and host Mark Oppold on the set of the RFD-TV presidential candidate “rural town hall.”

Carly Fiorina thinks rural America is “hugely important.”

So important, in fact, that government should leave it alone.

Fiorina was the latest presidential candidate to participate in question-and-answer series of cable channel RFD-TV. The series is billed as a town hall about rural issues.

(Six Republicans previously participated in the town hall. The only Democrat to do so, Jim Webb, announced today that he is withdrawing from the Democratic primary.)

While the questions ranged from international trade to the Waters of the U.S., the answers of the former head of the Hewlett-Packard corporation never strayed from a path that was well worn by the end of the one-hour interview.

“The federal government does way too many things,” she said at the top of the hour. And it needs to stop.

For the next 60 minutes, minus commercial breaks, nearly every answer included a reference to getting the federal government out of regulatory responsibilities:

  • Farming: “The Federal Government controls more and more of what an individual farmer should control. And that scares me.”
  • Crop insurance: “We have to have a competitive free market in crop insurance. Not the government in there because the government is incapable of spending money without also wielding power.” (For the record, crop insurance provisions of the current farm bill use private insurers, but the federal government helps with some of the premiums.)
  • Broadband: “[Municipal broadband] is a really bad idea. It’s a bad idea because government is never as innovative or as effective as the private sector.” Though she did say that electric co-ops and similar organizations should dive into the broadband business.
  • Regulating the use of antibiotics in farm animals: “I don’t think the Federal Government should be engaged in this because I think it is a false problem. You know, this is how socialism starts, honestly.”
  • Miscellaneous: “The [Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Communications Commission], you name it, they are rolling out rules. … This thicket of rules is crushing. It is crushing farmers, it is crushing small business owners, and it is crushing possibilities in this nation.”

On the issue of Social Security’s long-term health, Fiorina said she would defer action until the nation had eradicated waste and fraud from both that program and Medicare.

One big exception to her hands-off rule is infrastructure. “Roads and bridges, infrastructure, is a federal government responsibility,” she said.

And she said Congress should enact legislation that would remove the right of states to regulate genetically modified crops.

Fiorina said she would not support the Trans Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement because of the process used to negotiate it. “On the surface, of course I would support the TPP,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t know what’s in it. None of us know what’s in it. And that’s the problem.”

She said China should be held to its free-trade agreements. “They punish our food producers in this country, and they get to play by rules in our market that we’re not allowed to play by in their market,” Fiorina said.

Other candidates who have participated in the town hall are Republicans Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Ben Carson, and Bobby Jindal. Jim Webb participated before withdrawing from the primary on October 20.

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