Monday Roundup: Santorum’s Rural Argument

Santorum says Romney won't pull votes in rural America • Deaths from prescription drug abuse soar in Colorado • A rural hospital that is saving lives by keeping good records

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Rick Santorum is shaping his current campaign speeches around something we’ve been writing about in the Daily Yonder for some time: Santorum is winning in the strongest Republican areas while Mitt Romney is doing best in the cities, where Democrats dominate. New York Times reporters Sarah Wheaton and Richard Oppel report in a story headlined: “Santorum Takes On Urban America”:

“And if you look at where my Republican opponent has won, it’s always in and around the cities,” Mr. Santorum added, in what seemed to be a clear reference to Mr. Romney, whom he did not mention by name.

“It almost looks like a Republican versus a Democrat, when you look at these states,” Mr. Santorum said. “And he’s winning the areas the Democrats win, and I win the areas the Republicans win.”

“Does that tell you something, maybe?” he said to applause.

Santorum was talking in Illinois, which is holding its presidential primary Tuesday. The former Pennsylvania senator is arguing first that he will be stronger in traditionally Republican communities — that is, rural America. The argument is that real Republicans won’t turn out for Romney.

But he’s going deeper than that. He’s saying that current Republican policies are aimed at helping rich people living in Democratic cities not those who live in smaller communities.

“Think about it, look at the map of the United States — blue being the Democrats, red being the Republicans — it’s almost all red,” Mr. Santorum said Saturday evening. “Except around the big cities.

“And yet when you look at the economic plan that Republicans put forward, it’s all about tax breaks for higher-income individuals who live in those blue areas mostly.” 

This comes from the “How Things Work” Department of the federal government:

We noted last week that the Senate passed a transportation bill that also included $364 million to extend the Secure Rural Schools program, which supports schools in areas where timbering on federal lands has been curtailed. Included within THAT amendment was another measure, which would extend the federal tobacco tax on manufacturers to roll-your-own machines. 

There’s a small Ohio company that builds roll-your-own machines that allow smokers to cut their costs dramatically by bypassing the big tobacco manufacturers. The machines are about the size of an ATM machine. At a tobacco shop, customers can buy their ingredients and in about 8 minutes the machine will produce a carton — sort of the way you grind a pound of tobacco at the store.

Big Tobacco doesn’t like being bypassed, so it supported an amendment that would tax any shop that operated the machines as “manufacturers” of cigarettes. That would result in higher taxes and much more regulation. 

The Altria Group, formerly Philip Morris, spent $11 million on lobbying last year, some of it on the legislators who included the amendment aimed at taxing out of business the maker of the roll-your-own machine.

• Misuse of prescription drugs is everywhere. The Denver Post reports that deaths linked to prescription opioid use have doubled in the last ten years in Colorado.  The paper reports:

Painkiller prescriptions written by the top 10 Medicaid prescribers for one popular drug, Roxicodone, shot up 46 percent last year, according to state records. Denver’s Office of Drug Strategy found that prescriptions filled for oxycodone rose 58 percent from 2007 to 2011.

Nonmedical use of painkillers in Colorado is 19 percent higher than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To illustrate the “epidemic” nature of opioid abuse, the CDC said enough of the painkillers were sold in 2010 to medicate every American adult with a typical 5-milligram dose of hydrocodone every four hours for a month.

• The Denver Post writes about a rural hospital that has done a particularly good job of implementing an Electronic Medical Record system. 

The East Morgan County Hospital in Brush, Colorado, has one of the most advanced EMR systems in the country. The system allows doctors to discuss patient care with specialists as far away as Israel, who have immediate access to patient records, vital signs, x-rays and test results. “The result is that (the hospital has) cut down patient deaths, speeding recovery and” helping keep people in Brush.

• Historians of all stripes will get a look at the individual surveys conducted in the 1940 Census on April 2. Genealogists and family historians will be eventually able to search names in the data that will be posted on the Internet. 

• Morningstar analysts are expressing concern over the medium-run prospects for farm equipment manufacturers. 

• Ethanol production from corn isn’t driving up the price of corn as much as it’s giving U.S. producers a steady market for their crops, write University of Tennessee’s Daryll Ray and Harwood Schaffer. 

Other countries are ramping up their corn production. They are buying new equipment and the latest in seeds. Yields are increasing and so is the international trade in corn. Ag production is booming, Ray and Schaffer write. They conclude:

Looking at these numbers, one is apt to conclude that, if it were not for the over 5 billion bushels of domestically produced corn to produce ethanol in the US, the US corn production sector would be a lot smaller and much less prosperous.

 

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