Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama may face a 'rural revolt' from Democrats

President Obama is facing a potential rebellion from rural Democrats upset by administration decisions "on everything from greenhouse gases to car dealerships," Politico reports. "A rural revolt could hamper the administration’s ability to pass climate change and health care legislation before the August recess."

Lisa Lerer and Jonathan Martin offer a killer quote in the second paragraph, from Rep. Dennis Cardoza, right, of the farming-intensive Central Valley of California: “They don’t get rural America. They form their views of the world in large cities.” (Reuters photo)

"Cardoza’s critique was aimed at Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, but it echoes complaints rural-district Democrats have about a number of Obama administration decisions," Lerer and Martin write, quoting Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu: “I wouldn’t say it’s a complete strikeout, but they’ve just got a few more bases to it when it comes to the rural community.” Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, reflecting complaints that Obama has paid little attention to rural areas sicne his election, said, “We’d love to see him out in rural America more.”

The story touches on topics already covered here: Obama's non-starter plan for an income-based limit on direct paymentsto farmers; farmers' desire for carbon credits monitored by the Department of Agriculture, ethanol producers' wish to not have faraway land-use decisions count against the sustainability of their product, and lawmakers' inability to understand why General Motors and Chrysler had to close many rural car dealerships, a strategy at least tacitly endorsed by the White House Auto Task Force.

“None of us can quite understand why they consider dealerships a drag when they are the ones that buy the cars, that take the financial risks,” said North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan. Many of the dealerships that are being closed are profitable.” For a Washington Post database of dealers Chrysler dropped, click here; GM has issued only a list of number of dealers to be dropped in each state.

The undersigned told reporter Martin that the closing of car dealerships in small towns is nothing new, because the car makers have been dropping rural franchises for decades, but this round is a huge acceleration and expansion, involving larger towns. That nuance wasn't used in the story, but a more direct political point was. You can read it here.

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