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Michele Bachmann Loves Government Pork

Especially when it benefits her district:

A Freedom of Information Act request for communications the Minnesota Republican has had with the Department of Agriculture shows that she leaned heavily on federal officials for help — never more so than when it came to aiding the pork and dairy producers in her state.

On Oct. 5, 2009, Bachmann wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack praising him for injecting money into the pork industry through the form of direct government purchases. She went on to request additional assistance.

“Your efforts to stabilize prices through direct government purchasing of pork and dairy products are very much welcomed by the producers in Minnesota, and I would encourage you to take any additional steps necessary to prevent further deterioration of these critical industries, such as making additional commodity purchases and working to expand trade outlets for these and other agricultural goods,” Bachmann wrote.

At the time, the pork industry was facing a two-pronged calamity: fallout from the H1N1 influenza crisis and the ripple effects of the recession. Pork producers had lost nearly $4.6 billion in equity since 2007 and Vilsack, sensing greater market doom, had injected funds into the industry at least four times since that spring. In March 2009, the USDA purchased $25 million in pork, in April it made a $50 million purchase and in July it bought 775,000 pounds of ham, according to reports. In September, just one month before receiving Bachmann’s letter, Vilsack had signed off on $30 million in additional federal purchases of pork.

Michele Bachmann has long had the public reputation as someone who opposed earmarks and other forms of “pork barrel” spending, as she said in this April 2010 appearance on Fox Business Channel:

When the GOP actually took over Congress in November and banned earmarks, though, Bachmann was among those who sought to redefine some forms of directed spending to get around the earmark ban.When the rubber hits the road it seems, those principles don’t really matter much and government pork, literal government pork in this case, is a good thing so long as it benefits Bachmann’s constituents, and her family which itself benefits from farm subsidies. Hypocrisy is a strong word, but I think it clearly applies here.

 

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mattb says:

    Pork: Money going to other districts and states.
    Bringing home tax payer dollars: Money going to YOUR district and state.

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  2. Gustopher says:

    You’ve got to play the system that currently exists, while trying to change it. To not pursue pork for her district would just mean that the people she represents wouldn’t be getting the pork they pay for through taxes.

    I don’t like Bachmann, I think she’s crazy and weird and exactly the type of person who would be active an an HOA or condo board and drive everyone else crazy with stupidity, but she isn’t a hypocrite for this.

    The fact that the Republican House haven’t tried to change the system in anything other than cosmetic ways despite campaigning the end earmarks is hypocrisy, however.

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  3. lunaticllama says:

    Republicans are first and foremost a corporatist party. Their modus operandi is privileging incumbent business interests over those of the people. So it’s not really surprising that a prominent Republican would go to the mats for corporate welfare; that’s really the whole point of the endeavor.

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  4. hey norm says:

    I’m sorry Gustopher this is pure hypocrisy…you cannot rant abuot socialism, and then accept subsidies yourself, and promote them for your district. she calls the ACA the crown jewel of socialism. sorry sweatheart…farm subsidies are the very definition of socialism.

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  5. DMan says:

    Gustopher,

    You’ve got to play the system that currently exists, while trying to change it. To not pursue pork for her district would just mean that the people she represents wouldn’t be getting the pork they pay for through taxes.

    She seems to be saying much more here than just “please return tax payer money to my constituents.” She seems to be suggesting here that direct government intervention has been successful in her district, and that she wants more of it.

    “Your efforts to stabilize prices through direct government purchasing of pork and dairy products are very much welcomed by the producers in Minnesota, and I would encourage you to take any additional steps necessary to prevent further deterioration of these critical industries, such as making additional commodity purchases and working to expand trade outlets for these and other agricultural goods,” Bachmann wrote.

    As far as I’ve seen Bachmann’s public position has been that government spending is wasteful, so we need to curb it’s spending so we can lower taxes, which would in turn increase efficiency. How does this reconcile with her approach towards spending more money in her district?

    As for her position on earmarks, if she’s anti-earmarks and is in fact earmarking for her district, it’s more than likely hypocritical. The only way I can see it otherwise is if she defends all other congressman who earmark as well (I somehow doubt shes defending most Democratic earmarks), while being intent on working towards structural reforms in preventing the widespread future use of earmarks.

    I readily admit it’s possible I’ve missed the nuance in Bachmann’s position on government intervention in the marketplace as well as her position on earmarks. Yet I can’t help but think it’s fair to consider her a hypocrite until she can convincingly explain the nuance of her position.

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  6. anjin-san says:

    Hmm. You mean her rants about smaller government and “socialism” are just snake oil for the chumps?

    Never saw that one coming…

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