Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Leading U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky says he opposes farm subsidies

The leading candidate for Kentucky's open seat in the U.S. Senate said last night that he opposes agricultural commodity programs. “I don’t think federal subsidies of agriculture are a good idea,” Rand Paul, right, said during a statewide debate with most of his opponents in next Tuesday's primary election, primarily Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who said he supports farm subsidies.

Paul has gained the lead in the primary and general-election polls on the strength of the fundraising base of his father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for president in 2008; his opposition to federal bailouts, budget earmarks and deficit spending; and his support of term limits and a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget. However, the issue of farm subsidies has played little if any role in the race.

Paul and Grayson addressed the issue in response to a question from Bill Goodman, the moderator in the hour-long discussion on Kentucky Educational Television. Paul said he tells farmers that he opposes the estate taxes, but "I'm not in favor of giving welfare to business." Grayson said the federal government has an “important role” to play in farming. An pro-ethanol group from Iowa is running TV ads against Paul.

On another spending issue, Paul called for abolition of the Department of Education while Grayson said Paul's attitude would harm the state's public universities and students who need financial aid. The universities and rural communities around the relatively poor state have also benefited from budget earmarks obtained by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and 5th District Rep. Hal Rogers, a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. Both recently came out for Grayson, who said the amount of earmarks may have to decline as the federal government tightens its belt, but earmarks are still needed to help Kentucky tackle such problems as drugs in Appalachia -- the goal of a program Rogers has repeatedly funded with earmarks, UNITE. Paul said that was “sort of the Democrat mantra – let’s throw money at the problem,” said Appalachia's problems are decades old and “We need more local solutions and less of Washington telling us what to do.” Grayson replied, “Rand doesn’t want to go to Washington to fight for our priorities — he doesn’t know the priorities of our state.” Paul said congressional seniority should not determine federal spending. “Let’s base the decisions on objective facts on which projects need to be built and not base it on the seniority of the senators and the congressman,” he said.
Jonathan Martin of Politico writes that the debate illustrated "the central dispute that has defined the closely watched contest and is dividing establishment and insurgent Republicans nationally: should the party hew to a purist line on fiscal issues, slashing spending and reducing the role of Washington, even if that means taking political risks that may be unpopular with the general electorate?" For coverage from The Courier-Journal of Louisville, click here; from the Lexington Herald-Leader, here.


Anonymous said...

There was little time for answer in the debate format. It suited Grayson's canned sound bite formula better than Paul's typical thoughtful discussion format. If you watch the hour long Courier Journal interview of Rand Paul, you will find he philosophically opposes the Dept of Education, but that he isn't running against it, never expects to have a vote on that issue, and would, instead, work to reverse one child left behind, on a bipartisan basis. Other issues are similarly better dealt with in that interview. You can find it, here: http://www.livestream.com/cjpolitics/video?clipId=pla_e6104f43-2732-4fc7-b79a-289b9ef2cdf9

Anonymous said...