On Jan. 3 Iowa, with open caucuses, will be the first state to select 2008’s presidential candidates. The pattern it sets could decide which Democratic and Republican candidates live or die, politically speaking.
Iowa, say some critics, is a very atypical state to have such a large voice in picking America’s presidents. Its population, unlike most of our country, is almost lily white.
Others remember Thomas Jefferson’s hope that America would forever be a nation of yeomen farmers kept virtuous by hard work, closeness to nature, and far from the inherent corruption of cities. What could be better, some believe, than giving priority to the presidential preferences of a conservative farm state?
Trouble is, Iowa is not entirely a land of hard-working, independent-minded Jeffersonian yeoman farmers who never seek a handout. (I write this as the son of an Iowa-born-and-raised father. A significant fraction of all the Kerns, McKenzies, and McCains in southwestern Iowa are my relatives.)
Iowa is a welfare state.
Iowa receives more federal farm subsidies than any other state. Iowa farmers in 2005, for example, pocketed $2.24 billion in federal farm subsidies and more from the “Freedom to Farm” law’s “emergency” payments to farmers.
To keep this cash flowing from other states’ taxpayers, Iowans have elected politicians like Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin who have long voted in concert with fellow liberals in big cities.
Farm state lawmakers traditionally vote for more food stamps and welfare for big cities, and urban politicians reciprocate by voting for more farm subsidies, justifying them as needed to produce the food those food stamps procure.
This symbiosis of socialism has hooked people with government largesse from Des Moines to inner city Detroit.
Think of Sen. Tom Harkin as the pusher supplying these Iowa welfare addicts. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, he has been one of the biggest promoters and defenders of such subsidies. He is also the fourth most senior Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee and its Agriculture & Rural Development subcommittee.
Iowa can also be called America’s oldest state, i.e., with the oldest average population. It has more residents 85 or older than Florida. A higher proportion of people here acquired their political views during the Great Depression and under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt than anywhere else.
A higher proportion here are retired and concerned about Social Security, Medicare, and other government programs than are younger populations in other states. And seniors tend to vote in higher proportion than other age groups.
Harkin claims to serve their concerns as a member of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.
Harkin originally won a seat in Congress with money and support from organized labor. In recent years, however, his campaign funds have come largely from other sources.
During recent election cycles more than 80 percent of the dollars contributed to his campaign came from outside the state of Iowa. The three locales from which most of Harkin’s cash came were Washington, D.C., Los Angeles-Beverly Hills, and New York City.
Harkin might appear to be a senator from Iowa, but he is the almost-wholly-owned subsidy of special interests and alien ideological groups very far away from traditional Iowan interests and values.
As a newly-elected senator, in April 1985 Harkin and fellow neophyte leftwing Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., flew to Nicaragua to give propaganda support to the Sandinistas only days before a scheduled congressional vote on President Ronald Reagan’s requested aid for Nicaragua’s anti-communist freedom fighters.
After embracing Daniel Ortega in front of news cameras, Harkin and Kerry flew back to Washington with a piece of paper signed by Ortega in which he claimed to be “non-aligned” between the U.S. and Soviet Union.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, lobbied by Harkin and Kerry, voted against giving aid to the anti-communist Contras. Harkin and Kerry, according to some accounts, had been told privately in Nicaragua, but had kept secret from fellow Democrat lawmakers, that at the very moment the vote against President Reagan’s request was taking place Daniel Ortega would be aboard a Soviet airliner winging to Moscow to pledge his allegiance to the Soviet Union.
Harkin since then has visited communist Cuba to discuss the potential of Fidel Castro’s slave island as a market for Iowa farm products.
Given his ultra-leftist ideological inclinations, it should come as no surprise that last July Harkin’s wife Ruth endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for president. The Harkin-Clinton connection, however, is as much green as red.
Ruth Harkin in 1993 was appointed chairman and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) by President Bill Clinton. At OPIC, she facilitated deals with Clinton Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
Ruth Harkin appears to have played a role in President Clinton’s seizure of low-sulfur coal lands in Utah that gave a potential $1 trillion in assets to the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army and the Indonesia-based Lippo Industries, which control the world’s only other major deposits of this kind of coal used by U.S. power plants. These foreign entities funneled huge amounts of money to the Clintons and to the Democratic Party.
While Ruth Harkin ran OPIC for President Clinton, it channeled $748 million to Democratic Party benefactor Enron Corporation as well as billions to her law firm’s clients in Russia. She also directed $65 million to military contractor United Technologies, which hired her as senior vice president and head of its Washington office in 1997.
Ruth Harkin also became a director of the oil company Conoco and, in the wake of its 2002 merger, of Conoco Phillips. In June 2001 the Des Moines Register reported that Sen. Harkin “inadvertently omitted” $200,000 in Conoco stock owned by his wife and another $15,000 of this stock owned by one of his two daughters.
No wonder liberal Democrats feel so at home in Iowa.
If Hillary wins in Iowa and goes on to win the presidency, it is likely that the payback for the Hawkeye State will fatten Iowa into a bigger welfare state than ever before.
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