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GOP Abandons All Principle, Attacks Pressler for Seeking Farm Subsidy Replacement

Suffering a paroxysm of anti-Pressler ranting on his blogging deathbed, Pat Powers launches an attack that epitomizes the rottenness of the South Dakota Republican philosophical core. Powers dings Pressler for a 1987 article advocating "an end to the safety net for South Dakota farmers."

The truth of this claim, like everything Powers blogs, is questionable. The intent of the claim is clear: Larry Pressler hates farmers!

If we look not at Pat's headline but at the actual text Pressler penned for the July 9, 1987, Christian Science Monitor, Pressler was talking about helping farmers escape the "vicious cycle" of subsidies that encourage surplus production, depress prices, and exacerbate environmental problems by driving farmers to plow erodable land. Pressler advocated an international version of our Conservation Reserve Program to help farmers:

In the United States, the National Wheatgrowers Association and several other farm groups have endorsed the concept of an international conservation reserve. Currently, farmers in Japan receive more than half their income from government payments. Farmers worldwide receive their production signals from government programs rather than the market. A reduction in global production of agricultural commodities would bring supply in line with demand, thus increasing market prices. This would allow governments to phase out government subsidies without bankrupting the world's farmers [Larry Pressler, "International Action on Agriculture Is Needed," Christian Science Monitor, 1987.07.09].

Pressler didn't want to end the safety net for South Dakota farmers. He wanted a safer net.

But fully contextual policy discussion be darned, the SDGOP has to make Pressler out to be Satan! The SDGOP chooses to do so by attacking Pressler for suggesting an alternative to a "safety net" that, strung for any less well-heeled bloc of down-home voters and donors, the SDGOP would call socialist government handouts.

And this critique comes from a party that elects a farm welfare queen as its conservative pin-up girl.

Basically, with this farm subsidies ploy, Pat Powers and his Republican friends want voters to turn against Pressler because he isn't liberal enough.

The South Dakota Republican Party has no principles left. Like Annette Bosworth, they'll toss any old word salad together if they think it will win them votes.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.14

    "GOP Abandons All Principle"

    They had some?

  2. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.14

    I'm pretty sure Powers didn't think was "following" would read the entire Pressler article and not notice the quote Cory cited.

  3. Nick Nemec 2014.10.14

    Reading comprehension isn't Power's strong suit.

  4. jerry 2014.10.14

    40 years of this kind of crap we have had to put up with. 40 years is a long time to wander in the desert of broken dreams caused by republican regime after regime.

  5. Donald Pay 2014.10.14

    "The truth of this claim, like everything Powers blogs, is questionable."

    Powers' gift is in being 100 percent certain of everything he writes, whether it's total bullshit or not. To quote George Costanza, "It's not a lie....if you believe it."

  6. John Tsitrian 2014.10.14

    Pressler was actually party-consistent for writing that thing in the first place, probably because it squared with Reagan administration efforts to move the world's ag sector into some form of an internationally cooperative environment. The notion that in those days you could get international cooperation on ag subsidies was pretty radical. European soybean farmers were essentially getting subsidized to the tune of about $15/bu when American farmers at best were getting half that. To Europeans it was as much a matter of social policy as it was a sop to their farmers. France in particular deemed it socially preferable to keep a large population out on the farms, generally regarding American social problems to have begun when the migration from rural to urban areas took hold. Farms there were often a couple of hundred acres and less. The political downside for France was that the large rural population constituted a sizable voting bloc, so its subsidy-dependent ag economy was entrenched. This was all in the days before the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, via a major Reagan-era initiative, morphed into the World Trade Organization, which does indeed try to keep some sort of international control over subsidies. Reagan promoted turning GATT into WTO, adding on NAFTA that was eventually signed by WJC. Pressler, in writing these thoughts, was basically pushing the GOP agenda toward freer trade. I don't know why Powers or any other Republican is P.O'd about that. LP was just toeing the party line of his day.

  7. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.14

    My farmer father complained bitterly about European countries, especially France, subsidizing their farmers. And he passionately hated Reagan.

  8. John Tsitrian 2014.10.14

    Deb, since the mid-90s, EU farm subsidies have declined by 10%. That was about when WTO took hold. Haven't followed it closely enough to know how much disparity there is between American and foreign subsidies, but I'm pretty confident the gap has narrowed considerably since your father's day.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.10.14

    Yes John, those trade agreements made a big difference.

  10. lesliengland 2014.10.15

    @edschultz, MSNBC's EdShow last night keeps slugging against Pressler's being elected as a one term, unaccountable "independent" with a record of voting to cut social security multiple times.

  11. bearcreekbat 2014.10.15

    Powers writes his blog and advocates for various Republican candidates and conservative policy positions, but is if fair to assert that whatever he writes is the position of the entire GOP as suggested by the headline? I don't know much about the relationship between Powers and the SD GOP, so perhaps he is the sole voice of the GOP? If not, then the headline seems a bit over the top and unfair.

  12. Rorschach 2014.10.15

    The GOP may be pulling for Pressler or Howie before this campaign is over. In the very near future, Powers could be asking his readers to support Pressler or Howie. Won't that be fun to watch? Of course before he switches horses he'll be imploring people not to abandon the little gelding with the broken legs limping to the finish line.

  13. jerry 2014.10.15

    LOL Rorschach. The gelding with the broken legs. Good one. In fact, I can see Powers now helping Dick Whataham get the doses of dermorphins right now to help their gelding even make it to the clubhouse turn.

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