Mitt Romney's Rural Platform
Republican Mitt Romney was in Iowa today to announce his "vision" for a "vibrant rural America."
Romney's position paper was released early today, before the Iowa event, and, like President Obama, the Republican's rural policy is all about agriculture. Of course, most people in rural America have little to do with farming, but in a campaign short on substance, we'll take what we can get.
“We already ask our farmers and ranchers to cope with natural disasters,” Romney said in his plan. “They should not also have to battle a man-made disaster of taxes and regulations from Washington. Our economic recovery must also be a rural recovery, and my plan for a stronger middle class will ensure that our agricultural sector grows and thrives.”
The paper appears to have been written by Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (who is also a former Secretary of Agriculture) and Adam Putnam, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture (and a former U.S. Congressman). They review the four areas of the Romney rural plan: taxes, trade, energy and regulations.
You can download a full copy of the Romney plan here. Below are excerpts.
Some things to note:
• Romney criticizes Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) for failing to pass a Farm Bill this year.
• Romney revives candidate Obama's statement from 2008 that people in rural America were "bitter" people who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
• There is no mention of the rural development component of the farm bill.
• There is no mention of wind energy, but Romney says he will maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Okay, here are big chunks quoted directly from Romney's written platform:
"Agricultural Prosperity: Mitt Romney's Vision For A Vibrant Rural America
"Romney will reverse President Obama’s out-of-touch and counterproductive approach to rural America and instead champion the efforts of those who guarantee the safety and security of America’s food supply, produce economic prosperity, and help to feed the world.
"THE ROMNEY AGENDA:
• Implement effective tax policies to support family farms and strong agribusiness;
•Pursue trade policies that expand upon the success of the agriculture sector, not limit it;
• Create a regulatory environment that is commonsense and cost-effective; and
• Achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020.
"The agriculture industry not only creates jobs across America, but also provides one of the safest and most reliable food supplies in the world. And while the impact of a safe, abundant food supply is felt and appreciated at home, it also resonates globally. The average American farmer feeds 155 people around the world, a true testament to the productivity and ingenuity of the agriculture sector and proof that there are few limits to what it can achieve at home and abroad. To fully realize this potential, the federal government must know where it can be helpful and where it needs to get out of the way.
"The farm bill is an important case in point. This legislation provides important peace of mind for farmers and ranchers through programs that help manage market volatility and respond to natural disasters. Unfortunately, that peace of mind has been wiped away by a Congress stuck in gridlock and a President unwilling to show leadership on the issue. Mitt Romney understands that leadership is not an option for a president; the job demands it, and the American people deserve it. As president, Romney will ensure that a strong farm bill is passed in a timely manner to give farmers and ranchers the certainty they need for their operations and their livelihoods.
"As president, Mitt Romney will pursue fundamental tax reform that lowers marginal rates, broadens the tax base, and maintains the progressivity of the current code to preserve tax fairness. This pro-growth approach will encourage small businesses to reinvest their profits, grow their businesses, and keep good jobs in America. Romney will also permanently eliminate the estate tax so that families passing farms from generation to generation will not have to worry about liquidating their assets. And, he will eliminate all taxes on savings for families earning less than $200,000, helping middle-class families to save and invest tax-free. These savings and investments can help families plan for long-term costs like college and retirement, and also serve as an important source of seed money for budding small businesses.
"As president, Mitt Romney will make trade a top priority. He will complete the Trans- Pacific Partnership and pursue new agreements, focusing particularly on promising markets in Latin America. He will also form what he calls the Reagan Economic Zone, a broader coalition of nations impatient with the lack of progress at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and committed to moving ahead with free trade on their own. By working from both within and outside the WTO, Romney will bring the greatest possible pressure to bear on countries around the world to open their markets for America’s exports. At the same time, Romney will confront nations like China that have failed to abide by trade agreements and used unfair practices like currency manipulation to put American exporters at a disadvantage.
"The President and his Administration have pursued a series of regulations and related actions that have no rational explanation besides a complete disregard for the effects of their policies. From overzealous efforts to extend the Clean Water Act to rainwater in ditches, to duplicative rules for pesticides, to an insistence on the authority to regulate dust, to a proposal that would bar teenagers from working on their family farms, it has become impossible to believe that Washington understands or cares about the interests and concerns of rural America. The President’s cap-and-trade proposal would also significantly harm agriculture. And unannounced EPA monitoring from airplanes has added an absurd insult to these very real injuries.
"(Romney) will take steps to fundamentally reform the way Washington regulates, so that future regulators do not repeat the mistakes of today. In a Romney Administration, agencies will be required to focus their attention on reducing regulatory cost instead of increasing it and their proposals for major new regulations will not go into effect until Congress approves them.
"(Romney) will not only accelerate the development of conventional energy sources, but also advance new technologies by funding early-stage research and ensuring that breakthroughs are able to reach the market and compete on a level playing field. Romney recognizes that biofuels are crucial to America’s energy future and to achieving his goal of energy independence, and he supports maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard to guarantee producers the market access they have been promised as they continue to move forward."