Schafer Defends Bush Administration Following Heitkamp Criticism
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp recently criticized the Bush Administration for vetoing the current farm bill which is set to expire. “Let’s talk about, a little bit, just a little bit, about the history of that farm bill. Do you know who opposed that farm bill? Speaker of the House John Boehner. Yup. Do you know who vetoed that farm bill, twice? George W. Bush. And do you know who was the Secretary of Agriculture when George Bush vetoed that bill twice? Ed Schafer,” said Heitkamp at the North Dakota Dem-NPL convention in Grand Forks, ND last weekend.
Former Republican North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, who served as U.S. Ag Secretary in the Bush Administration, says he wants to set the record straight. “It’s always interesting in a political season when people take pop shots at others or those involved when they don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Schafer.
Heitkamp says if her potential rival, U.S. Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND), is elected to the Senate, it would be more of the same. “This year that bill will expire. What will replace it will depend on the leadership that we send to Washington, DC. Make no mistake, if we send Rick Berg to the United States Senate, we’ll get the policy of John Boehner, the policy of George Bush and the policy of Ed Schafer. And they will say no to North Dakota agriculture,” said Heitkamp.
Schafer disagrees with Heitkamp’s assessment. “Heidi Heitkamp wants to go to Washington to continue the wasteful spending policies that are the norm down there,” said Schafer.
Schafer says the Bush Administration vetoed the farm bill legislation because it had $20 billion more in it than the administration wanted to spend. “There were many good provisions in the legislation but one of the things that the Bush Administration and I was looking for at the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) was limits on payments for corporate farms and for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. And I find it kind of ironic that it was (former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat) that was pushing for subsidy reform in this legislation along with the Bush Administration,” said Schafer.
In addition to the overspending, Schafer says the legislation was underfunded by $9 billion. “I would prefer that Rick Berg, when he’s elected to the Senate, follow Senator Dorgan’s footsteps, Heidi Heitkamp’s compatriot, or colleague, Senator Dorgan. I would urge Rick Berg to follow that effort to reform subsidy payments. I think it’s very important as one of the reasons for the veto that was put in place,” said Schafer.
Congress is working on a new farm bill as we speak and Schafer says the wisdom of the Bush Administration shows now. “All of those things added-up to reforms that were not in the new farm bill and we (Bush Administration) felt was inappropriate and President Bush vetoed it. It was overridden and obviously put in place but now we’re seeing the results of it…The very same policies that brought George W. Bush’s veto as President of the United States are the ones that the Democrats are trying to institute now because they have to figure out ways to lower the budget,” said Schafer.
Heitkamp says she will go to Washington and do what’s best for North Dakota interests and the country. “How is Heidi Heitkamp going to say well that was really good policy to really overspend and to underfund and to continue to give subsidies to corporate farms and million dollar farmers at the expense of the small independent family farms that are just trying to eke out a living and don’t have the subsidies to support what they need?” said Schafer.Tags: Ed Schafer, farm bill, Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota News, President Bush, Rick Berg