Wetterling, Bachmann, Binkowski at Farmfest
Bachmann v. Wetterling has a decent round up of the coverage of the CD6 candidates at Tuesday's FarmFest. Even better is St. Cloud Times writer Lawrence Shumacher, who has audio up of the CD6 candidates' responses to the questions asked. Looking through the coverage, I found some real gems.
Apparently, Michele Bachmann was walking around in style:
Difficult walking conditions on the FarmFest grounds did not prevent state Sen. Michele Bachmann from staying in style.
The 6th Congressional District candidate appeared at the event in high-heeled shoes. She is known for that type of footwear. A newspaper article about her once included a picture of her running a vacuum cleaner wearing them.
I'm guessing that Patty Wetterling just wore tennis shoes. She probably doesn't vacuum in high heels, either.
With both her style and her policy positions, Bachmann showed she's a lightweight:
Bachmann noted her service on the Senate Environment, Agricultural and Economic Development finance committee and said she was an early supporter of a dairy investment tax credit that has yet to make it through the Legislature.
She offered elimination of state and federal inheritance taxes as a tool for preventing the loss of Minnesota dairy farms.
Hmm. Bragging about yet another bill that didn't pass? And what's this about the inheritance tax? You mean the one that only applies to those estates above $1.5 million for 2006? How many small farmers have $1.5 million lying around? I'm sure their land is worth something, but studies have shown that the fear-mongering of Bachmann and other "taxpayer advocates" is unfounded:
The debate sometimes revolves around which estates are affected by current law. The effects of the law on small business owners and family-owned farms (entities which, conservatives argue, are hardest hit by the estate tax) was studied in an analysis undertaken by the Tax Policy Center. A study of the 18,800 taxable estates taxed in 2004 found 7,090 which had any farm or business income. Of those, there were 440 estates in which half or more of its assets were the value of farms and/or businesses. The effective tax rate on the 440 estates studied in detail never averaged more than 23%.
And the chart of the study shows that, for all but the largest estates, the effective tax rate is lower than that 23% figure. And, with 435 House districts in the United States, if you accept that figure of 440 farms/small business estates affected, that means that, on average, the federal inheritance tax only affects one farm or small business in the Sixth District each year.
Meanwhile, Patty Wetterling offered a real solution:
Wetterling suggested prohibiting milk protein imports to ensure local milk is used in making cheeses. She advocated a permanent disaster assistance fund and renewal of a milk subsidy that kicks in when prices fall below a specified level.
[...]While Tuesday's debate yielded no direct clashes, Wetterling said finding a solution to spiraling health care costs would do more to help farmers than Bachmann's proposal to eliminate inheritance taxes.
She also delved into the political ramifications of voting Democratic this November:
She attempted to link her election to potential benefits for Minnesota farmers that could arise if Democrats take control of the U.S. House. That could mean Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-Minn., would become chairman of the House Agriculture committee, and Rep. James Oberstar, DFL-Minn., would lead the House Transportation committee.
"When I get to Congress it will not only elevate Collin Peterson, if we get 15 seats, but it will elevate Congressman Oberstar to head the transportation committee," she said.
The Strib had only this to say:
In the Sixth District, Republican candidate Michele Bachmann and her DFL opponent Patty Wetterling agreed that rural roads need improvements.
Where was Michele Bachmann on this issue in her years in the State Senate?
Independence candidate John Binkowski was also there, being independent (as usual.)
In a three-way race for an open Sixth Congressional District seat this fall, Independence Party-endorsed candidate John Binkowski of St. Mary's Point appeared most willing to say things the audience might not have wanted to hear.
Binkowski questioned whether federal crop insurance was wasteful and whether price supports help small farmers or large agribusiness corporations.
"My responsibility in all of this is not only to Minnesota farmers and Minnesota family farmers, especially, but to the American taxpayers," the first-time candidate told the crowd. "So some of the things I say here might not be agreeable to everybody, but I'm going to be honest with you."
I respect that, and it might resonate with voters. Not a huge percentage of Sixth District citizens are farmers, and despite the farmers' political clout, I think it might help Binkowski in the long run. (He still has no chance, though.)