Under Trump, farm subsidies soared and the rich got richer

Anne Schechinger: President Joe Biden and Congress must reform a wasteful and unfair farm subsidy system. This report first appeared on the Environmental Working Group’s website. -promoted by Laura Belin

Taxpayer-funded farm subsidies have long been skewed in favor of the richest farmers and landowners. But under the Trump administration, even more money went to the largest and wealthiest farms, further shortchanging smaller, struggling family farms.

The Environmental Working Group’s analysis of records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that subsidy payments to farmers ballooned from just over $4 billion in 2017 to more than $20 billion in 2020 – driven largely by ad hoc programs meant to offset the effects of President Trump’s failed trade war.

Continue Reading...

Why the rush to change Iowa's election law?

Janice Weiner is a community activist and city council member in Iowa City. The Iowa Senate approved an amended version of this bill, which cuts early voting in many ways, along party lines on February 23. A forthcoming Bleeding Heartland post will discuss those changes in detail. -promoted by Laura Belin

The draft bill aimed at fixing voting problems that don’t exist, which is moving through the Iowa legislature at breakneck speed, galvanized me to speak out. We had only two minutes each for public comment at the February 22 public hearing. This is the original slightly longer version of my remarks:

I come at this from many directions.

During my 26 years as a U.S. diplomat, I served places where people literally risked their lives to vote. When I spoke with them, I held up my home state as a shining example of making it easy to exercise the franchise.

Continue Reading...

Randy Feenstra's selective concern for farmers

Andy Kopsa: Iowa’s new member of Congress from the fourth district brags that he “delivers for farmers.” Unless you are a Black farmer, that is. -promoted by Laura Belin

Politicians love farmers. Every caucus season they prove it: they throw a foot up on a hay bale and stump to a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, shove a pork chop into their mouth, use the term “heartland” and “kitchen table” a minimum of 400 times.

Vice President Mike Pence and the Iowa GOP love farmers so much that he came to town just after the August 2020 derecho to launch the Farmers and Ranchers for Trump Coalition. Senator Joni Ernst and Governor Kim Reynolds took time out of their disaster recovery schedule to accompany Pence to Living History [not a real] Farms. Pence didn’t visit a single farm, but he found time to host an exclusive fundraiser in Urbandale before flying away home.

U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra (IA-04) also loves farmers a lot. He introduced an amendment to allocate more aid to Iowans impacted by the derecho last year during a House Agriculture Committee markup of the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Feenstra’s amendment passed by a single vote.

That vote came from Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03), the lone Democrat to cross the aisle.

Continue Reading...

Voter suppression advocates know what they're doing

James Larew, an attorney in Iowa City, delivered part of these remarks at a February 22 Iowa House public hearing on a bill that would restrict early voting. -promoted by Laura Belin

We live in troubling times.

The good news is that a democracy, such as Iowa’s, is inherently self-correcting.

Here, the people are sovereign.

Inept politicians can be replaced.

Foolish policies can be changed.

Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.

The greater the voter participation, the more likely, the more speedily, self-corrections will be made.

Continue Reading...

Early voting cuts would disenfranchise Iowa domestic violence survivors

Laura Hessburg is the public policy director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. -promoted by Laura Belin

We believe the sweeping election bill rapidly advancing through the Iowa legislature (Senate File 413 or House File 590) is bad for everyone. Iowans with the most to lose are those who rely on early voting: working people, busy people, senior citizens, college students, and survivors of intimate partner violence.

Current Iowa law gives people multiple opportunities and choices to exercise this fundamental right before election day. That is exactly what victims of domestic violence need to vote safely. Iowans can vote early at satellite voting stations conveniently located near them, they can drop a ballot off at a drop box, ask a friend to drop off a ballot for them, or they can vote completely by mail.

By undermining every single one of these choices and limiting the time and opportunities for early voting, this bill makes it harder for Iowans to vote and will disenfranchise victims of domestic violence. That is not what democracy looks like.

Continue Reading...

Ope! To defeat Kim Reynolds, it's time to scuttle "Iowa Nice"

C.J. Petersen is a rural organizer and board member of OPE PAC. He was the 2020 Democratic nominee in Iowa Senate district 6. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa nice. It’s the thing anyone who hails from the land of rolling cornfields and hog barns dotting the horizon loves to brag about. 

Ask anyone—you’ll hear an anecdote about farmers rallying together to finish a harvest due to an unforeseen illness, that time somebody from two towns over changed a teenage girl’s tire when she had a flat, or the way the community came together to clean up after a storm. My own neighbors invariably scoop my driveway before I have a chance to trudge out of the garage with my snow blower at least once every harsh winter. And at almost every gas station you’ll find a coffee can filled to the top with dollar bills to help a family with medical expenses they can’t afford. 

Continue Reading...
View More...