Obama’s energy, ag policies not selling in rural America

It’s convenient for some to see the 2006 and 2008 elections as a mandate for a more extreme progressive agenda. In actuality, many of the Democratic victories in those elections were won in moderate, rural communities — places where traditional liberal policies are not popular.

Recent polls show that a mere 23 percent of American voters consider themselves “liberal.” Regardless of ideology, all incumbents are going to be facing a tough election cycle this year — and it will be made even tougher because the policies pursued by many of them have lost the approval of most moderate voters.

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Such is the case with the government’s energy and agriculture policies. They may serve as red meat to the liberal base but they are crippling rural America and commercial agriculture.

Cap-and-trade legislation threatens to inflate energy prices across the board for farmers. When Congress dropped cap-and-trade due to lack of popular support, the EPA stepped into the breach and announced that it would begin regulating greenhouse gasses as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. This is such a radical case of bureaucratic overreach that Congress is now telling EPA that it has stepped outside its legal authority. Why did EPA attempt to do what they did? To please a more extreme non-scientific viewpoint.

This same bureaucratic overreach has abandoned science to unnecessarily pursue new regulations on atrazine, an invaluable herbicide that has been in common use in commercial agriculture since 1959. It is estimated that atrazine saves corn farmers $28 per acre in input costs and yield advantages — the difference between staying in business and going bankrupt for thousands of farms across the country.

There are more than 6,000 studies on file supporting atrazine’s safety and effectiveness, as well as international reviews by the World Health Organization, Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. The EPA recently completed a comprehensive study in 2006 and concluded that atrazine poses no risk to humans.

Responding to pressure from the Natural Resources Defense Council, however, the agency announced last October that it would convene four new Scientific Advisory Panels  to re-investigate the herbicide. At the SAP kickoff meeting in November, the scientific chairman remarked that the proceedings were “out of the ordinary.” I agree. And I would add that if farmers across the Midwest see their livelihoods threatened by activist regulation in the EPA, and Congress does nothing to stop it, voters in rural areas won’t be treating candidates too kindly in the coming election.

I commend the Obama administration and Congress for beginning to focus on job creation. Unfortunately the government’s policies are job losers in rural America, pure and simple — not just for farmers, but everyone who either sells to them or buys from them. That’s pretty much everyone in America.

Unless the administration and Congress change course soon their electoral prospects may be derailed.

From former Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-Texas), Washington

Internet gives Tea Party access to knowledge

Actor Jon Voight, a speaker at Saturday’s Washington Tea Party protest against the healthcare bill, has it backwards when he says, “If there’s one thing that’s clear about this past year of this administration it’s that they don’t want to listen to the people.”

The thing the Tea Party makes clear is that increasing numbers of Americans don’t want elitists in Washington telling them what is good for them. The Tea Party rejects the president and the Democrats in Congress practicing medicine. The Tea Party knows this healthcare bill is grossly flawed and thus harms our physical and economic health.

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Contrary to its detractors, the Tea Party is a pro-intellectual movement that arises from Main Street and takes the information highway, the Internet, to the White House and the Capitol. Knowledge that was once accessible only to those who could afford a university education is now common knowledge for many Americans, who easily educate themselves in politics, economics and history by simply surfing the Internet.

The saying “Knowledge is power” is proven true when applied to the political juggernaut, the Tea Party, that now has politicians across the nation and at every level of government listening to them.

President Barack Obama and Congress are being knocked off their pedestals due to Main Street America powering up.

From Helen Tackett, Fullerton, Calif.