Crop subsidy data suggests Michele Bachmann is a welfare queen
On Thanksgiving, Minnesota's well-known opponent of all things remotely socialist, Michele Bachmann, waxed philosophical on her blog about the benefits of free enterprise, and about one professor's conclusion that once the Pilgrims abandoned communal farming practices, they became more prosperous. She said Paul Rahe "points to the Pilgrims as an example of how we today can better understand how socialism thrwarts hard work and innovation while discouraging what should otherwise be a productive and fruitful society."
Bachmann picked up on Rahe through Minnesota's own conservative Power Line blog. It's not surprising Power Line's authors would cite Rahe, since Rahe is a favored academic at the conservative National Review -- he calls President Barack Obama's health care reform effort "tyrannical" -- and he teaches at Hillsdale College, which National Review calls a "citadel of conservatism."
After reading Rahe, Bachmann concluded:
We've had our own modern day fling with great society welfare state policies. And after trillions and trillions spent we've purchased neither more personal industry or frugality.
Which brings us to crop subsidies.
Truthdig, a lefty news site, recently crunched some numbers supplied by the Environmental Working Group and Bachmann's own financial disclosures. EWG's numbers come from the United States Department of Agriculture, and are current through the 2007 farm subsidy program year.
Bachmann's family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann's recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized--or "socialized"--businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls.
The farm to which Truthdig refers is in Independence, Wis. More on that from Bachmann critic Karl Bremer.
According to EWG, four of the top five U.S. House districts receiving crop subsidies are controlled by Republicans; five of the top 10 are controlled by Republicans. Nos. 9 and 10, by the way, are Minnesota's District 1 and 9, represented by DFLers Tim Walz's and Collin Peterson, respectively.
EWG's top 5:
1. 3rd district of Nebraska (Rep. Adrian Smith - Republican) - $1,736,923,011 in subsidies go to 51,702 recipients.
2. 1st district of Kansas (Rep. Jerry Moran - Republican) - $1,315,979,151 in subsidies go to 75,802 recipients.
3. 4th district of Iowa (Rep. Tom Latham - Republican) - $1,288,622,912 in subsidies go to 35,696 recipients.
4. 9th district of Texas (Rep. Randy Neugebauer - Republican) - $1,227,192,312 in subsidies go to 21,290 recipients.
5. 1st district of Arkansas (Rep. Marion Berry - Democrat) - $1,221,133,529 in subsidies go to 23,020 recipients.
To be fair, compared to the size of federal handouts in those congressional districts, Bachmann's 6th congressional district is small time. In the 2007 farm bill, her district took in $60,744,081 for 3,451 recipients.
EWG has compiled an interactive national map that details the location of every farm to have received federal subsidies through the 2007 program year, and the amount each of those farms has received. See it by clicking here.
More from Truthdig:
Bachmann's financial disclosure forms indicate that her personal stake in the family farm is worth up to $250,000. They also show that she has been earning income from the farm business, and that the income grew in just a few years from $2,000 to as much as $50,000 for 2008. This has provided her with a second government-subsidized income to go with her job as a government-paid congresswoman who makes $174,000 per year.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.