The price of turkey • More lame duck to-do lists • Charles Blow at NY Times makes dubious point • Interior Secretary threatens reporter about wild horse story
We are focusing on Congress in the next week or two, examining the issues being taken up in the lame duck session of Congress that most affect rural communities. See Chuck Hassebrook’s article below for our first installment.
We read in Agri-Pulse about the National Association of Counties’ Rural Action Caucus. The caucus has released its 2013 legislative priorities, adopted recently at a meeting in Louisiana. The priorities include:
• Relief from unfunded mandates;
• Reauthorization of the farm bill with a focus on rural development;
• Renewed focus on improving rural healthcare and substance abuse programs with a focus on rural veterans and youth;
• Implementation of the key rural provisions of the Surface Transportation Law (MAP-21), and;
• Reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools & Self Determination Act and PILT, which are critical to communities with Public Lands.
Broadband In The Mountains — WMMT radio’s Sylvia Ryerson reports here on why it is so hard to get a good broadband connection in the mountains — and what that means for the future of those communities. Listen here.
Urban Done Us In — Paul Ryan talked to his hometown paper about the Republican defeat on Tuesday. What happened? The urban vote was the thing, said the Vice Presidential candidate.
Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:
Ryan said Obama “won fair and square,” and “we congratulated him for that win.”
Asked if the voters rejected the Republican vision, Ryan said of the president: “Well, he got turnout. The president should get credit for achieving record-breaking turnout numbers from urban areas for the most part, and that did win the election for him.
“It’s clear we have a country that is divided among a number of issues. We thought that the best thing for the country is to get ahead of our fiscal problems. We offered specific solutions. It didn’t go our way. So obviously we’re disappointed by that. We’re not going to be able to fix this country’s fiscal problems along the way I thought we should have. Whether people intended it or not, we’ve got divided government.”
The New York Times is from New York — New York Times columnist Charles Blow writes:
Romney also won eight of the 10 states with the lowest population density: Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah. Obama won New Mexico and Nevada. (Hello. Hello. Hello. Is there an echo in here?)
Anyone from New York writing about an echo chamber is really stretching credibility, of course. New York county voted 84 percent for President Obama. Talk about an echo!
Anyway, Blow also has a serious misunderstanding of geography. Density of a state is simply the total population divided by the total square miles. What does it mean? Not much — mostly that low density states lie west of the Mississippi River.
Nevada is a low density state. But it is also the 7th most urban state in the country. Sure, there’s a lot of empty land, but people don’t live there. Nearly 9 out of ten people living in Nevada live in metropolitan areas. In Utah, 8 out of ten residents live in an urban area. In New Mexico, it’s half.
The average density of a state is meaningless.
Oh, by the way, two out of the three most rural states in the country (Vermont and Maine) went for the President.
No Guarantees On Air Service — Rural airports are finding that just because they offer an airline a guarantee of revenue, it doesn’t mean that the airline will come.
Columbia, Missouri, offered Delta a two-year, $3 million guarantee and that still wasn’t enough to get the airline to continue service.
Wind Tax Credit Stirrings — The Production Tax Credit for wind energy is set to expire December 31 and uncertainty over its extension is leading to layoffs in the industry. The Des Moines Register reports:
In Iowa alone, Siemens laid off 400 people at its blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison. In Cedar Rapids, Clipper Windpower has cut about 100 jobs.
The American Wind Energy Association has warned a failure to renew the tax break could result in the loss of 37,000 U.S. jobs. The tax break, which has drawn bipartisan support throughout its 20-year history, provides a subsidy of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour to the wind industry.
Clayton’s Lame Duck List — Chris Clayton at DTN has his own good list of what’s up in the lame duck for ag.
Buffett Closes Community Paper — Warren Buffett’s investment company will close a 10,000 circulation newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, laying off 105 employees.
Buffett has been seen as a savior for community newspapers. He recently bought 63 papers from Media General Group, including the paper in Manassas. Interestingly, a Buffett executive said the problem in Manassas is that the community is too close to a metropolitan area, which brought competition from larger papers.
Cutting Flow on the Missouri — The Corps of Engineers is cutting flow from an upper Missouri River reservoir. Downstream interests fear this will worsen low-water problems on the Mississippi River.
Barge companies fear that the decision will lower the Mississippi enough to curb barge traffic.
Kind Words From The Interior Secretary — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threatened to punch out a reporter for the Colorado Springs newspaper after he asked about an investigation into the agency’s wild horse program.
Reporter Dave Philipps had written a story about a Colorado man named Tom Davis who purchased 1,700 wild horses from the federal government, but can’t document what happened to the animals. Davis is a proponent of horse slaughter. Reporter Philipps asked Salazar about the investigation on election day.
After the interview, Salazar came up to Philipps and reportedly said, “Don’t you ever … You know what, you do that again, … I’ll punch you out.”
A spokesman for Salazar said the secretary “regrets the exchange.”