Could GOP inaction on farm bill set up another Dewey vs. Truman?

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A top Republican is concerned that a replay of the Truman-Dewey election of 1948 could occur because leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives seems intent on bottling up debate on the farm bill until after November’s election.

In a tweet to his Twitter followers on Monday, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Republicans must be reminded of the farm revolt that got Democratic President Harry Truman re-elected in 1948.

In that election, it appeared challenger Thomas Dewey had a good chance of winning. In fact, many accepted it as a foregone conclusion, giving rise to the iconic photograph of a victorious Truman holding up a newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

History books ascribe much of Truman’s success to the fact he won the farm vote. Truman campaigned hard that year on agricultural issues, Grassley told an AgriTalk Radio audience on Wednesday. Meanwhile, farmers grew wary of perceived indifference on the part of Republicans and a “do-nothing” Republican Congress.

“The farm community has been fairly happy for the last several years,” Grassley said. “But in a great part of the Midwest… the drought is doing serious damage, and a lot of happy farmers can become unhappy very quickly.”

See a commentary that appeared in the Dairy Herd Network newsletter last week, entitled, “What are the Republicans thinking?”

Grassley acknowledged that part of the reluctance to bring legislation to the floor has to do with the food stamp program, which makes up 80 percent of the farm bill. Proposed cuts in the food stamp program are bound to spark a floor fight, which could be politically damaging just prior to the election.

Yet, the version of the farm bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee cuts $35 billion from the federal deficit over 10 years, which should be politically popular among the conservative members of the House. If there’s a bill that can save that much money, “they ought to take advantage of it,” Grassley says, “because I think it’s the only bill between now and the election or between now and the end of the year or between now and 12 months from now that’s going to be passed that saves any money.”  

Also, read “Farm bill: The Speaker’s next big headache.”

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George Caraway    
Worthington, MN  |  July, 27, 2012 at 09:20 AM

These are sacry times because of the drought with food costs increasing rapidly. Why should food stamps even be part of the Farm Bill? I would think with all the government expansion the last 3.5 years that food stamp budget resposiblities could be reassigned to another department. This would allow the great farmers, dairyman and meat producers to apply all the new technologies to feed the world. Progress is being stopped by social issues with disregard to food production and agricultural needs.

joe from nj    
woodstown nj  |  July, 27, 2012 at 11:12 AM

The public thinks the farmers are getting all thefarm bill money things are so bad on the dairy farm I'm gone to need foodstamps

Wisconsin  |  July, 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM

I have no problem with a cheap food policy. However, the massive increase in food stamp benefits under Obama would be continued under this bill. The fraud and waste in the food stamps administration cannot be allowed to continue. Either split these bills apart or cut the food stamp provisions, or the "just give me stuff" crowd will grow unabated.

california  |  July, 27, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Hey congress why don't you just suspend your stupid the ethanol mandate for a year? It would cost nothing and free up 50% of the crop for real use

MN  |  July, 27, 2012 at 12:02 PM

I agree: It is long over due that ETHANOL mandates and subsidies end.

Walt Guterbock    
Anacortes, WA  |  July, 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM

There were a lot more voters on farms back in 1948 than there are now. This Farm Bill represents significant progress in cutting subsidies, so I think the Republicans should pass it, even if it is not perfect. Perfection is the enemy of the good.

Carroll Wade    
Jasper N Y  |  July, 27, 2012 at 01:09 PM

I am not sure that most of the republican leadership is smart enough to realize the importance of agriculture to the overall economy or to national security . Even befor Obama was sworn in a President , most of my republican friends were clammering "We need to get that S O B out of the White House ". It would seem that has been the same senario at the Washington level as well . From my view point the republicans have indeed been obstructionist and a do nothing group for the last few years . I am surprized that some of the Washington crowed are able to get a good tan on their head because many have been placed where the sun doest shine , just blowing smoke . It's time to call the doctor because it has been way longer than four hours since the citizens of this country have endured this mal-treatment . Before you wonder ,, I am a republican , but I don't have to vote for incompetance .

WI  |  July, 28, 2012 at 07:28 PM

There are sensible solutions to many of our society's "problems", which many of us who as farmers could make in short order because we have lots of practice making decisions which have to make economic sense and get a job done today, not 8days or 8months or 8years from now. Politics is the problem, politicians are the problem. Stop the unlimited campaign contributions from corporations and other high dollar sources, limit terms in the Senate and House, expect the legislature to make decisions on time...the President is the chief executive, the legislature should respect the time agenda he or she puts before them. What we've seen for nearly four years is Republicans on the federal level who aren't even taking their responsibility to write law seriously....Get REAL--the wrong people with the wrong experience are building the Farm Bill and holding up progress. Meanwhile, I just keep working harder to try to keep my a.. out of the fire. But I'm honest and I'll give anyone a hand-up who is willing to learn and work--even a federal legislator, Republican or Democrat!

Michigan  |  July, 30, 2012 at 09:45 AM

When one considers all of the harm the Obama administration has done to America it is truly sad that the "farm vote" would go to him in November. A vote for Obama this November would be cutting off one's nose to spite his face!

Washington State  |  August, 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM

The harm the Obama administration has done, if any, is a thimble full compared to Bush and company.

kansas  |  August, 04, 2012 at 07:56 PM

Need a Republican with a Backbone to propose Removing Food Stamps & School Lunch & WIC from the USDA altogether - NOW! That would be legislative action everyone in every Ag segment could support. Once done, the debate on AGRICULTURE could be settled, yes? What is stopping this, besides Bureaucrats trying to cover and save their jobs and Legislators trying to preserve their personal power?

Mi  |  August, 23, 2012 at 06:30 PM

If you remove all food stamps and feeding programs from the "farm bill", you won't get enough votes to even bring it up for consideration. The farm bill gets passed every 5 years because urban legislators vote for the food aid portion. I'm not sure we need a farm bill, but separating the two parts will guarantee this is the last one.

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