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Congress to Constituents: It’s Your Fault

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Congress may not be popular – just one in seven Americans approve of the job they’re doing – but they are creative. Instead of quietly leaving town ahead of the elections, some lawmakers have decided they should start blaming their constituents for the lack of legislative progress in Washington.


At a rally in support of the massive $1 trillion farm and food stamp bill, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee blamed farmers for the lack of legislative action. Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said, “The groundswell is not out there. It is not happening at the grassroots level.”

In many ways, this is a welcome development. Perhaps Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) celebratory comments on the demise of the Tea Party were premature. Nevertheless, the real question is why is the groundswell lacking? Well, despite predictions earlier this year that farmers would see a 6.5% decrease in income because of the drought, farm income is now expected to hit a record $122.2 billion!

Undaunted by reality, Peterson touted the rally as “a good starting point” and urged more action. He said, “we need 100 or 200 calls from people in their districts” to lawmakers. If that doesn’t happen, he warned, “we’re not going to get a farm bill.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests farmers did not occupy the congressional phone lines.

Peterson concluded, “It’s that simple. We went through August and we really didn’t see the groundswell of support out there. We’ve got to make this happen. You’ve got to make this happen. It’s got to come from the grassroots.”

The message from Peterson and others is simple: if the farm bill fails, it’s your fault, not ours.

Another reason (besides record income) farmers were not picking up the phone is because, for many, they are in the midst of an early harvest season. Despite the drought, many farmers are enjoying better than expected yields thanks to advances in farming technology.

Bill Simmons, who farms 1,300 acres of corn in Iowa, told Missouri’s WBIA his new drought-resistant seed is “doing really well for us all things considered.” A grain marketing specialist (yup, you read that right) warned, “things look good so far, but the proof is in the yield at the end of the year.” Late last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported drought-related crop losses will be smaller than initially feared.

Peterson tried Rahm Emanuel’s approach, but people didn’t buy the crisis he was selling…and it’s all your fault!

Oh, and if you’re feeling guilty about failing your lawmakers, you may want to know the special interests lobbyists are not happy, either. According to The Hill, several lobbyists shifted the blame to “Tea Party sentiment [that] runs strong against the bill due to the hefty prices tag for farm programs.”

While the bill’s cost is an issue, it is not the only issue. What special interest lobbyists cannot understand is that government intervention distorts the market, thus harming consumers and taxpayers by increasing the real cost of goods and service.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) explains government intervention distorts “information that is absolutely essential to consumers to make rational decisions in the marketplace." His colleague, Tom McClintock (R-CA) had a simple solution: the government "shouldn't be subsidizing any product."

Not only are both men right, they are exhibiting principled leadership in the process.

Can you picture Huelskamp or McClintock, or other conservative leaders like Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) or Representatives Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Tom Graves (R-GA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), blaming their constituents for their own failings?

Of course not.

Ultimately, proponents of a government-centric economy believe they are always smarter than their constituents are. If they cannot achieve something, it is always because their constituents did not understand.

Don’t believe me? President Obama told Time Magazine he “didn’t have the luxury of six months to explain exactly what we were doing with the [stimulus].” And Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) declared, “I understand that parts of [Obamacare] are not popular, but I don’t think most Missourians understand what’s all in it.”

Two very different visions for America through the prism of the farm bill debate. Which one do you prefer? And remember, if you pick wrong, it is your fault.

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