Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Trump's War Against Rural Voters


Lindsey Graham, who fancies himself a bit of a stand up comic, got off a hilarious one yesterday. He said he doesn't believe Trump was colluding with the Russians because Trump isn't even able tp collude with his own staff. It would be even funnier if we soon read that racist pig Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III or IV gets fired as Attorney General after giving up a for-life Senate seat to work for the volatile Trumpanzee. And, speaking of comedy, the whole nation-- except maybe Republicans up for reelection-- is looking forward to Trump live-Tweeting the Comey testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow.

But no one's been as much the butt of cruel humor as the poor folks who took Trump at his word and voted for him in the hope his policies would be better for them than the more-of-the-same agenda they identified with the overly-confident Hillary Clinton. This week McClathy's DC bureau ran with a piece about rural counties in California that voted for Trump, only to see his regime turn around and cut programs that they need for survival.

California isn't Trump country, but he won most of the rural vote. He had West Virginia-sized wins in the state's most backward and deprived counties. The 5 worst hellholes in the state:
Lassen Co.-72.7%
Modoc Co.- 71.8%
Shasta Co.- 65.6%
Tehama Co.- 65.5%
Glenn Co.- 61.7%
These are tiny counties with few votes but Trump won smaller percentages but far more votes in big Central Valley farming counties like Kern County-- 119,164 votes (54.7%)-- and even in Fresno County, which he lost but which gave him a hefty 113,949 votes (45.5%). The big electoral story in California was that Trump lost reliably Republican suburbs like Orange County-- where he was defeated in all 4 congressional districts Romney, McCain and every other Republican in recent decades has won. But it might be more interesting to go talk with the delusional idiots who voted for him in such overwhelming numbers in alienated, miserable places like Lassen and Modoc counties now.
The Maxwell Public Utility District in Colusa County, California, just northwest of Sacramento, got a $1.28 million loan and a $74,700 grant from the federal government for a water well replacement project in 2015.

Last year, President Donald Trump won the county by 13 percentage points.

Next year, the money that funded the well could completely dry up.

Rural communities across California, many of which voted for Trump, stand to lose millions of dollars in federal funding if proposed cuts in Trump’s budget proposal, unveiled in detail last week, are enacted. While the prospect of the cuts becoming law is dim, it still poses a threat that state lawmakers are readying to fight hard.

Business and industry loan guarantees, funding for water and waste disposal and direct loans for single-family housing are just some of the programs that would be eliminated under the draft budget for the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. In the 2016 fiscal year, it accounted for more than $800 million in federal dollars flowing to California.

“The cuts in this budget proposal to the USDA and our rural development programs would do great harm to those of us living in rural America,” Jim Costa, co-chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, said in a statement. “We should be increasing investments in these communities to create conditions for improved economic growth, not cutting the very investments needed to help our communities recover.”

In a statement, Jennifer Cressy, spokesperson for Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said the congressman, “ is working with the administration to protect rural areas that have been devastated by federal land use restrictions and cost-prohibitive environmental regulations and are (sic) confident the result will be a renaissance in our mountain communities.”

USDA Rural Development provides support to rural areas in the form of loans and grants for development projects. As of last fall, it was managing nearly $216 billion in direct and guaranteed loans. The president’s budget reduces spending by 26 percent, according to analysis by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a D.C.-based nonprofit agency that represents agricultural groups around the country.

On Tuesday, a group of 28 Democratic senators sent a letter to Trump to raise concerns over proposed cuts.

“If enacted, these cuts would have a damaging impact on rural communities throughout the country,” the Senators wrote in the letter.

The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment.

One of the programs USDA Rural Development funds in California is value-added producer grants, money that helps farmers test and develop new business ideas. Top O’ The Morn Farms, a dairy based in Tulare, California, received a grant in 2016 to study and then launch a home delivery service for their milk. Trump won Tulare County by more than 10 points.

Nearly $2 million in grants were awarded in California in 2016. The proposed 2018 budget would do away with new grants completely.

“They're trying to eliminate government programs that basically help small business” Dave Runsten, policy director for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, a non-profit organization in Davis, California, said.

Runsten said the grants were effective in helping farmers expand their businesses. He said the private sector, “just doesn’t deal with the small people.”

“It’s all a question of the numbers and it’s just not worth it for them to deal with small enterprises,” he said.

Daren Bakst, research fellow in agricultural policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, disagreed. He said investments of this type reduce private investment and distort the market.

“If something is worthy of investment, private capital will find its way to it,” he said.

Bakst said that Trump’s budget eliminates many duplicative programs and that rural communities would ultimately benefit from a leaner federal government.

“What I think it’s going to do, is it’s going to help taxpayers and it’s going to help rural communities that have taxpayers,” he said.

The proposed budget also eliminates loans and grants for farm labor housing, a program that benefits California. In July, 2016, the USDA awarded $26 million for farm worker housing and $18 million went to California, including $3 million for a project in Bakersfield, home to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to request for comment.

In 2014, the USDA awarded $20.7 million in loans, including $12 million to California.

Together, these awards helped build more than 500 affordable housing units for farm workers.

“It looks like a cut, but really it's a tax on rural communities,” Wes King, policy specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said.

King said federal money is crucial because investment in rural areas is “low profit and high risk” and therefore unattractive to the private financial market. He said local governments may have to raise taxes to make up the shortfall. King said projects that are already underway will most likely be unaffected, but the uncertainty caused by the budget could hamper development. He also said that the cuts could affect the USDA’s goal of promoting trade.

“Agriculture doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” he said, “it exists as part of these communities.”
Don't say, "They deserve it; let them rot." That's because the greatest burden falls on the people who can least afford it, many of whom did not vote for Trump. Remember, those 113,949 fools who voted for Trump in Fresno County were outvoted by 123,660 people who voted for Hillary and over 11,000 more who voted for other candidates. And even in Kern County-- Trump country and much of McCarthy's district-- around 97,000 people who voted chose someone other than Trump. [Lassen and Modoc, on the other hand, should be handed over to Idaho, Utah or Wyoming. They should go-- and take crackpot Congressman Doug LaMalfa with them. Trump won his pathetic district 56.2-36.5%, Trump's second biggest win in the state (after McCarthy's district, where he beat Hillary 58.1-36.1%).]

There are 2 rural congressional districts that look ready to flip from red to blue-- Dehham's and Valadao's. Hillary narrowly won both and each would have had Democratic congressmembers by now if not for serial DCCC incompetence, incompetence that they are somewhat likely to duplicate in 2018.

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At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Sorry to say, the impact of the Republicans' policies need to have real impact on everyone so more people will wake up and vote these horrors out of office. Local and state officials are way too Republican across the country - people have not taken local elections seriously enough.

How can Trump remain in office? He is so clearly demented. He is ruining us further each day. Our standing in the world has dropped drastically. I mean really - running the Presidency with tweets? This is insane.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is past the time to look seriously at dissolving the United States. The poverty / ignorance / bible belt, thanks to the Constitution's provisions designed to protect the "peculiar institution," have had inordinate influence over national policy. Those states hold their citizens in penury and the rest of the country hostage. WalMart is the archetypal modern plantation, and no coincidence that they are based in Arkansas in the former Confederacy.

Break off the Northeast / Middle Atlantic states. Sever the West Coast. Toss in the more enlightened parts of the Midwest. Let some "purple" states like Virginia and Colorado come along if they wish. What remains will have nobody left to parasitize. Let them go begging in Mexico and Canada when the handouts from D.C. dry up.

Screw 'em!

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trump's war is the war republicans have been waging for 85 years.
They finally got all 3 branches and enough congenitally retarded voters in their base PLUS a hapless, feckless opposition party that might as well be merged into the Rs as much help as they give them.

Here is a good piece to simplify what the Rs are really up to:

Basically, they want all capital devoted to keeping the least among US alive and thriving, such as it is, transferred to the rich. They used to use capitalism, paying labor as little as possible to produce; sell for as much as they could get away with to the least among US for max profits.
Now they just want to kill those who are expensive to keep around in order to steal their capital.

There are trillions in SSI and Medicare that they will steal first, then they will charge whomever is left a shitload to stay alive after all sustenance programs go poof.

People will flush their entire worth to stay alive, is the theory.

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have had inordinate influence over national policy. Those states hold their citizens in penury and the rest of the country hostage.

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