Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Clinton's changing stance on rural issues could cost her votes in those areas

While trying to woo rural voters during her 2016 presidential bid, Hillary Clinton's past stance on rural issues could come back to haunt her and affect her chance to win the Democratic nomination and a White House bid, Matt Barron reports for The Hill. As a senator, Clinton opposed three issues "near and dear to rural voters." Though she has since reversed her opinions, that might not be enough to swing voters who remember how she voted the last time around.

"In 2003, Clinton was one of only 12 senators to vote against an amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that altered Medicare payment formulas to increase payments to providers in rural areas, bringing them in line with urban areas," Barron writes. "However, during Clinton's last run for the White House, she stated that she 'will work to make Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements fair so that all communities in our country—including those in rural areas that traditionally have lower reimbursement rates and, as a result, have difficulty recruiting doctors—have qualified doctors.'"

"As a freshmen senator, Clinton opposed three measures to expand ethanol production and establish a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)," Barron writes. "Beginning in 2002, she voted against an energy bill that created a national renewable standard to increase the use of agricultural commodities for energy. In each case, her votes were the opposite of the position of the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union, which used them as key votes in their ratings for 2002-2004. Clinton's position on renewable fuels began to change at the start of her last presidential bid, when she voted for a bill in 2007 that doubled ethanol and expanded the RFS to include biodiesel and cellulosic sources."

"In June 2005, Clinton voted against an amendment to ban MTBE and require refiners to use 7.5 million gallons of renewable fuels annually by 2012," Barron writes. "MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, was a gasoline additive that was widely used in the 1990s to help refiners comply with clean air standards. MTBE is highly water soluble, meaning that leaks from underground gasoline tanks spread quickly to water supplies, where it can persist for decades. In addition to making drinking water smell and taste like turpentine, MTBE has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals when inhaled. It is also expensive to remove," costing between $1 billion and $3 billion. "Rural towns with small tax bases can't afford expensive environmental remediation bills that put a huge strain on their municipal budgets." (Read more)

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