GOP 2018 Farm Bill Doesn’t Spare Rural Americans Pain and Anguish; Hurts Our Farmers, Ranchers, Veterans, Seniors, Mothers, Retailers

It seems the Republicans just can’t help hurting their base voters. This time it’s the House GOP’s 2018 Farm Bill that is shaping up to be another affront to Rural America.

The Farm Bill shortchanges farmers and ranchers and doesn’t make up for the money and jobs that will be lost to U.S. growers and producers as a result of Trump’s trade war with China. The drastic cuts in this abomination of a bill will also hurt Rural veterans, senior citizens, retailers, and the most vulnerable among us.

Since net farm income has dropped about 50 percent in the last four years, now is the time to protect Rural Americans, and not cause them more pain.

These cuts come even though the Congressional Budget Office, the official referee that scores the impact of legislation, concluded that the Farm Bill adds minimal government spending and would not blow up the federal deficit. We’ll say it again: the biggest debt-creating bill remains the $1.5 trillion tax cut mainly for corporations and billionaires.

The Farm Bill is just the latest secret legislation drafted behind closed doors by the Republicans. That’s always a red flag for Americans. Let’s consider some of the state, local and regional agriculture programs it eliminates or reduces in scope:

  • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program
  • Value-Added Producer Grants
  • Organic Certification Cost Share Program
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Various pesticide protection and conservation programs

“I’ve always been optimistic about the Farm Bill. I felt very fortunate to work on the last farm bill with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, supporting programs that I believe make a difference. As legislation goes, the Farm Bill has a track record of breaking down party lines and cultivating collaboration,” Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) wrote for the site Civil Eats.

“But now, the Farm Bill has become the latest partisan battle, following in the steps of healthcare and tax reform. The 641-page Farm Bill draft was written by Republicans behind closed doors, and they’re hoping it passes quickly before anyone even has time to read it. The draft was released last Thursday and will be marked up by the House Agriculture Committee today, less than a week later,” Pingree added.

It’s no surprise the worst cuts will come to the farm-to-fork Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP. The Republicans would rather give billionaires and corporations and their shareholders a $1.5 trillion tax boondoggle than take care of Rural States that depend on SNAP the most.

Although Republicans perpetuate a myth that SNAP mostly serves people they stereotype as urban “welfare queens,” government statistics shows Rural Counties rely on the program more than Americans in cities. Furthermore, “39.8% of SNAP participants are white, 25.5% are African-American, 10.9% are Hispanic, 2.4% are Asian, and 1% are Native American,” the government data demonstrates. “In total, 76% of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 11.9% go to households with disabled persons, and 10% go to households with senior citizens,” the same data indicates. In addition, 1.5 million veterans live in households that get SNAP assistance.

Why would House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) intentionally increase the rate of hunger in America? It’s just cruel and unnecessary. Let’s tell Conaway and Congress to protect Rural America and send this partisan, mean-spirited bill to the swill bucket where it belongs.

Heartless Trump Sacrifices American Farmers in Unnecessary Trade War

A bad idea just doesn’t make for sound public policy; uniformed, chaotic government doesn’t make wise choices; and it is self-destructive for people to allow ignorant and intolerant politicians to lead.

For a moment try to forget about the tawdry sex scandals, suspected election subterfuge and signs of using the presidency of the United States as a money-making enterprise. Think about public policy for a moment. Search there for evidence of a cohesive strategy to keep the country moving forward on a path of meaningful growth and cultural significance.

Nada. Trump doesn’t have a plan. He just Tweets randomly without considering the consequences.

Now we find that Trump is willing to sacrifice Rural America’s Farmers and Ranchers in a poorly thought out trade fight with China. In doing so Trump has shown that there are no limits to how much he doesn’t know about America. Soybeans, pork, wine and corn-made Ethanol are the first casualties of Trump’s trade war with China. Expect there to be more.

Trump has revealed to his increasingly softening base that he doesn’t understand the needs of farmers. There was no secret plan that had farmers preparing for any disruption in the marketplace. It shows total disregard for the many farmers that operate season to season. In other words, Trump is oblivious to the fact that man Family Farmers and Ranchers don’t have years to see whether they make out OK in a trade war with China, the second largest economy on the planet.

Even Republican senators don’t like the risk involved in a trade war without a clear path forward, and a winning end game.

“I don’t know that there’s a real plan or strategy in place that gets the result that they want,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD) told The Hill. “It seems to me there needs to be a lot of thought given to unintended consequences,” he added. “My impression is that hasn’t happened.”

Trump’s own words this week to his Cabinet made clear he is relinquishing the needs of Rural Americans, expecting Family Farmers and Ranchers to march blindly as their livelihoods are threatened:

“When we do a deal with China, which, probably, we will.  If we don’t, they’ll have to pay pretty high taxes to do business with our country.  That’s a possibility.  But if we do a deal with China, if during the course of a negotiation they want to hit the farmers because they think that hits me, I wouldn’t say that’s nice.  But I tell you, our farmers are great patriots.  These are great patriots.  They understand that they’re doing this for the country.  And we’ll make it up to them.  And in the end, they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now.

“Don’t forget, farmers have been trending downward over an eight-year period.  Their numbers have trended downward, in some cases significantly.

“So between NAFTA and China and all of the things we’re doing, we’re going to make them much better than they’ve ever been.  But during this period of time — Sonny Perdue is here.  You understand exactly what I’m saying.  There will be a little work to be done.  But the farmers will be better off than they ever were.  We’ll take a little while to get there, but it could be very quick, actually.  But I say, it’s not nice when they hit the farmers specifically because they think that hits me.

“So with that being said, we’re doing very well on trade and trade deals.  I think deals will be made.  I think we’re going to make deals with a lot of countries that have taken advantage of us.  And we will be reporting back to everybody, and we’ll start our Cabinet meeting.”

Joining Trump’s coalition of clueless, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Rural America to to pipe down, claiming Farmers and Ranchers are “screaming and yelling” too much on trade, calling it “hardly a life-threatening activity, ” according to lifelong champion of the U.S. agricultural community, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL).

“Well Mr. Secretary and Mr. President, you’re right about one thing: We are screaming and yelling. Yes, indeed! Because when prices fall below the cost of production, it threatens our jobs, our families and our way of life,” Bustos wrote in the Journal Standard.

Donald Trump is a leader without a vision. Trump has turned the health care system upside down, has been disrespectful of state rule, caused unnecessary problems for legal immigrants, and has unduly undercut essential institutions that protect the rule of law and guides the nation in the role of the world’s moral voice.

Trump has failed to keep a promise of passing a predominantly middle class tax bill, proposed an infrastructure bill that forces states and local to raise taxes and tolls to make up for lost federal dollars, and has gutted the diplomatic ranks at a time when diplomacy is more effective than threats of war. Now he’s ready to add to that list by stabbing our Farmers and Ranchers in the back

Now is the Time To Make the 2018 Farm Bill Better

It’s easy to understand how some of us might have missed National Agriculture Day earlier this week with all the screaming tawdry tabloid headlines out of Washington. Some of us might not even realize that Congress is beginning to shape a new Farm Bill this session.

Well, neither of those points slipped by our family farmers and ranchers or the locally grown movement that we hold close to our hearts. Protecting and bolstering the agricultural community is not only critical to commerce and our local economies; it’s critical to our national security.

“Food security isn’t just about having enough food, it’s about national security. A nation that cannot feed its people is a nation at risk,” explained Debra Kozikowski, founder and chairwoman of our non-profit organization, Rural Votes. “The health of our family farms and ranches is key to the health of our nation and our democracy.”

With the White House girding for an ill-conceived trade war that could be a blow to the breadbasket of our nation, it’s even more critical that we protect the people who grow and raise the food that grace our tables. Anyone who thinks that’s an overstatement should consider this: China’s very first retaliatory threat in response to Trump’s protectionist policies was to target pork, wine and fruit exported from the United States.

Causing undue pain to Rural America is a heck of way for Trump to say thanks to the region he carried in the 2016 election, yet we see it happen repeatedly, from cuts to Rural Healthcare to shortchanging Rural Infrastructure to throwing pocket change at Rural Americans while giving away billions of dollars to corporations and his wealthy fat cat friends in his tax bill. Now Trump and his Republican cronies are taking aim at gutting parts of the 2018 Farm Bill that would hit Rural Americans the hardest.

Stepping up to try to ensure that the well being of our farming and ranching community becomes a national priority is the group, Democrats for a Better Farm Bill. In a groundbreaking issue paper from the organization, former Census Bureau mathematician Doug Hillmer and Nebraska political scientist Jon Oberg urge that we “re-connect with rural America by supporting healthy nutrition, new farmers, and the burgeoning market for local sustainable food.”

Hillmer and Oberg recommend pursuing a six-point plan for the 2018 Farm Bill that (quoting verbatim):

  • Marshals the market power of the Food Revolution for the benefit of rural communities, as newly prescribed by the Fed and USDA. This will assure that sustainable farming methods are scalable so local food producers can meet the growing demands for healthy food.
  • Unleashes the nation’s existing state and local research and extension networks to attack the spreading nutrition debacle.
  • Ensures that young people in rural America can successfully pursue a career in farming and have access to affordable farmland.
  • Replaces the costly and wasteful crop insurance programs with lower-cost and more equitable programs that give much more attention to protecting small farmers – as opposed to agri-business – from the risks of the market.
  • Provides more emphasis on and incentives for SNAP recipients purchasing healthy food. The current rules for the WIC program can serve as a guide.
  • Understands topsoil as infrastructure and protects the nation’s precious and disappearing topsoil and productive capacity through greatly expanded, urgent conservation. Restoring topsoil supports sustainable farming methods, re-charges our depleted aquifers, and protects our physical infrastructure from the ravages of water runoff.

“There is no better way to present a vision for rural America than through the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation touches every American, but is especially important to those in farms and cities all across the heartland,” Hillmer and Oberg wrote in a recent op-ed in The Hill newspaper.

Can We Trust Saccone to Protect Our Social Security and Medicare?

Trust is the cornerstone of the compact voters make with the candidates they support. Voters expect their candidates to keep their word and fight for the issues and programs that they pledge to support.

In the special election for the 18th congressional district in Pennsylvania, Republican Rick Saccone claims he won’t cut our Social Security and Medicare, but tell that to the man he wants to work for in Washington, Paul Ryan. The House Speaker has bragged that Social Security, and Medicare are his next big target.

Like so many career politicians, Saccone promises to protect our benefits, but he clearly wants it both ways, admitting in a recent debate when it comes to Social Security and Medicare, “we have to do some reforms.”

“Reforms” is nothing but a loaded word for cuts. One prime example is how $250 billion gets gutted from our Medicare under “reforms” in the current Republican budget. And that’s just for starters. Republicans seem to think they can make up for their $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to mainly corporations and the wealthiest by short-changing us on Social Security and Medicare benefits. Saccone has sent a clear signal that he buys into a scheme to “reform” social security and Medicare.

We need leaders who we can trust to increase our Social Security checks and expand our Medicare coverage, not cause us pain by gutting those programs that we earned during our working years. We can’t trust “reforms” to protect our Social Security and Medicare nor can we trust Republicans who think they can fool us into believing otherwise.

Rural America Would Benefit from Bipartisan Senate Budget Deal

Investment in Rural America is a big part of the bipartisan budget deal reached today in the Senate. The compromise would allow the Pentagon and other agencies to do some longer-term planning, for change – a luxury not afforded the federal government since the Trump administration took office.

The only question now is will House Republicans and the White House allow this deal, which includes fully repealing the funding-limiting domestic sequester caps, avoids another government shutdown, and would lift the federal debt ceiling through March 2019, a move urged by Treasury officials, who fear running out of money next month because of the GOP tax cuts.

The budget agreement was announced a day after Trump said, “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety, and unrelated but still related, they don’t want to take care of our military, then shut it down. We’ll go with another shutdown.”

Clearly the Democrats care about safety and the Pentagon with this deal. Both sides agreed $160 billion would go to the Pentagon and it leaves for another day the debate on immigration issues.

Along with the Defense funding, Democratic negotiators pressed for $131 billion in domestic investment, a significant chunk of which will directly benefit Rural Americans. The deal includes:

  • $90 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and areas hit by Western wildfires
  • $20 billion for existing infrastructure programs, Rural Broadband, Rural Water and Wastewater, roads and highways, clean and safe drinking water, and energy infrastructure
  • $6 billion to fight the opioid and mental health crises that have become an epidemic in Rural States
  • $4 billion for Veterans Hospitals and clinics
  • $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program
  • $4 billion to help make college more affordable, including programs that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters
  • $2 billion for critical research at the National Institutes of Health amid this deadly flu outbreak

Now the deal is in hands of House Republicans and the White House. Let your lawmakers know they should do the deal and avoid another government shutdown.

In the Can’t Make This Stuff Up Department: U.S. Will Need to Borrow Almost $1 Trillion from China and Others This Year to Pay for Tax Cuts

The plan seemed simple enough: first, ram through a redistribution of wealth scheme in favor of corporations and the richest Americans that would add more than $1 trillion to the federal deficit; secondly, come up with the excuse that social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and healthcare have to be cut to pay for the GOP tax cuts.

The sham embraced by GOP Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (so out-of-touch that he celebrated $1.50 a week pay raise for a school secretary, before trying to hide the fact that he did) was a page right out of the playbook of his patrons, the Koch brothers and others. Sensing a backlash from working- and middle-class voters in Rural States that depend on those programs, however, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said forget that; it’s a bad idea in an election year where Republicans are running for the door rather than facing the wrath of voters in November.

As McConnell knows very well from voters in his home state, most Americans everywhere, including working- and middle-class Rural Americans, want entitlements expanded, not cut. So instead of losing even more support from Americans, McConnell told Republicans lets do infrastructure repairs this year. Now as we recently reported that plan, primarily financed by forcing state and local governments to raise taxes and selling public roads, bridges and waterways to private companies that would charge tolls for their use, appears to be on life support, if not already declared dead on arrival.

Now Republicans are stuck with a very weak election-year agenda. Adding to Republican turmoil, it has become quite transparent to everyone that their coveted tax cuts grossly favor the rich and corporations over Main Street America. It’s at the point that those same Koch brothers have to spend $20 million on a campaign this year to try to make the tax giveaways look better than they really are.

To make matters even worse, Wall Street’s celebration of the tax cuts seems to be over, with investors not showing a lot of faith in the current economic climate at the moment. Trump can now boast of presiding over the worst closing point decline on record for the Dow.

It means we’re still stuck with the bill, but no worries, future generations will pick up the tab, right? Nope, according to the Treasury Department and the Congressional Budget Office, China and other debt investors will have pay the bill this year in order to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its loans.

Thanks to the GOP tax giveaways, the federal government is getting ready to borrow almost $1 trillion in 2018, an increase of 84% from last year. So in the end, yes, the Republicans are kicking a massive debt down the road. Is that how we make America great again? Or is that really just more of the same from a party that can’t seem to help but break the bank every time it occupies the White House?

GOP Infrastructure Plan: State & Local Tax Hikes; Toll Roads & Bridges

Are you ready for private toll roads and bridges in West Virginia and Maine? How about state and local tax hikes in Mississippi and New Hampshire? Get ready for it, because that is exactly what Rural States from Georgia to Idaho can expect if the Trump infrastructure plan comes to fruition.

Oh, the White House talks a great game, promising that a quarter of its $1.5 trillion “plan” to repair bridges, repave roads, buttress dams, dredge waterways and renovate water pipes will be dedicated to Rural America. What the Trump administration doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about is the fact that its formula only calls for putting up about 20% of the cash to rebuild a crumbling America.

The Trump scheme calls for state and local governments to raise taxes and private contractors to take control of roads, bridges, and waterways and charge tolls for their use by American consumers.

A more traditional infrastructure blueprint would have the federal government putting up 80% of the money and states come up with the remaining 20%. We can thank the GOP tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans for making it virtually impossible for Uncle Sam to do his job and maintain the vital American infrastructure.

As CEO Joel Moser of infrastructure finance and privately equity company Aquamarine Investment Partners, points out in Forbes, state, and local lawmakers would be hard-pressed to raise taxes after the GOP tax scam just all but wiped out the federal deduction for state and local taxes.

“By proposing less federal money, Trump is playing a shell game, pushing the responsibility to raise taxes to governors and mayors, and right after signing a tax bill that eliminates the deductibility of state and local taxes, making it just about impossible to raise taxes. He gets to claim fiscal purity on this issue and pass the blame to others—because the problem will not get fixed,” Moser writes.

It gets worse. Trump’s proposal is based on ”competitive grants” that would greatly favor wealthy East and Coast “Blue States” over Rural “Red States,” meaning Rural Areas would likely be left behind once again by the Trump administration.

“There are a bunch of us that want to work on infrastructure, but it can’t be overly reliant on tolls from blue areas of the country and leave red areas of the country behind,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

‎We’re going to be hearing an awful lot about how the GOP tax cut giveaway to their fat cat friends on Wall Street and corporate boardrooms have crippled services and lifestyles for the vast majority of Americans. Just this week the Congressional Budget Office warned that the federal government is once again going to have to raise the debt ceiling because federal revenue already is slowing to trickle thanks to the GOP tax cuts.

Raising the debt ceiling means selling more debt to buyers like China for the federal government to pay its bills. But what it really means is American infrastructure is going to continue to crumble, —and Rural States will take the biggest hit of all.

The State of Rural America is Strong But Vulnerable

The State of Rural America is strong because of the people and local institutions that allow us to sustain our vital agrarian-based communities. The strength of Rural America can be found in our profound and productive ability to feed the world.

The State of Rural America is threatened, however, by the false promises from current leaders who seek to divide us through manipulation and by pitting neighbor against neighbor, for political gain. It’s an outrage.

On issue after issue, Rural Voters are offered only meaningless words, as opposed to actions that ensure our way of life is maintained and protected. There is a better deal for Rural Americans, but in order to achieve it, we must elect officials who we can trust to fight for our jobs and way of life.

  • The Rural Economy needs trade deals that protect our farming, ranching and fishing industries, and ensures the best prices are paid for American grown and harvested produce, meats, fish and dairy products. The current administration is pursuing a trade policy that will leave Rural Agriculture short-changed while filling the pockets of Wall Street and corporate executives.
  • Rural Infrastructure needs to be maintained to ensure our goods and services are delivered to market without interruption. The safety and well being of our families and neighbors should not depend on the mood of lawmakers. After delivering on tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, the current leadership now intends to put forward a plan that forces the Rural States to raise taxes and fees in order to repair and renovate our streets, roads, bridges, dams and buildings.
  • We require a healthcare strategy that guarantees and expands coverage for working- and middle-class Rural Americans and halts the epidemic of Rural Hospitals closing. Demonizing our health care coverage for partisan political gain hurts us all, particularly Rural Children and Rural Seniors. The current leadership’s intentional destruction of the American health care system must end.
  • Rural America needs and deserves the same dependable high-speed Internet and broadband connectivity that our fellow Americans in urban and suburban America receives. Instead, our leaders have adopted a policy that takes away net neutrality from Rural America, hurting our small businesses, entrepreneurs, consumers, and schools while favoring giant telecommunications corporations who intend to
  • We need a farm bill that levels the playing field for family farms and locally grown and harvested produce, meats, fish and dairy products. The current leadership must not be allowed to favor Factory Farms and Agribusiness over Family Farms.
  • Governments and business must work together to create incentives and programs that end the Rural Brain Drain. Our young people need to feel confident and secure that they can live in work in the communities they call home. We must encourage our young people to see and feel the world, whether it is through education, the military, individual adventure or some combination. We must ensure, however, that they have a reason to bring back their knowledge and experience to revitalize and grow our Local Communities while guaranteeing that they have a future in Rural America.
  • The same goes for Rural Women and our at-risk neighbors who can contribute mightily to our Rural Communities. There must be private-public partnerships that provide economic empowerment opportunities in Rural America.
  • It’s important for our leaders to get their priorities straight. A good place to start is not choosing to attack institutions that Rural Americans depend on to keep America safe, like the FBI and CIA. We choose Team USA always over hostile governments, like the Russians or North Koreans.
  • We must demand an end to the current administration’s war on state and local rule. The voters and local leaders must be allowed to pass their own laws that fit the will of their people, as long as those laws do not hurt and threaten the people in other communities and areas. Where state and local laws, ordinances, and rules are clear, the current slate of federal officials must not be allowed to come in and impose their will just to satisfy their own out-of-touch, self-serving values, and profit-making schemes.
  • In order to ensure our voices in Rural America are not muzzled, we must seek the easiest path to voter registration and the simplest ways to cast a ballot. We must reject voter suppression and intimidation, and take on those who would allow outside forces and foreign governments to influence and tamper with American Democracy.

To preserve our way of life, our government must be held to a higher standard. We should not allow ourselves to be tricked into repeatedly getting intentionally diverted away from expecting elected officials keep their word on issues that matter to how we live, eat, breath and enjoy life.

The State of Rural America is Strong, but we should not be neglected or find ourselves under assault by the powers that be in Washington.

For Rural Votes, 2017 was a Groundbreaking Year Despite the Opposition

It’s been a strange, but energizing year. Everyday our resolve to fight for the rights and lifestyle of Rural America grows stronger. Our motivation is winning the war on hard working- and middle-class Rural Americans and winning the war on truth and justice.

Rural America is under assault by lawless leadership and their allies on important issues like tax fairness, quality affordable healthcare for children and adults, fair wages, family farms, good schools and colleges, incentives for small businesses expansion and equal Internet and broadband access.

Taking a look back at 2017, we all have come together to fight this battle of a lifetime for the future of America. Our efforts broke new ground in enlightening Rural Americans to the reality of a systematic bait-and-switch campaign of unkept promises by the ruling party in Washington and many Rural Governments. We should all be proud of the scorecard.

  • We won the fight to protect the core of our health care coverage, increasing access for everyone and protecting Rural Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. The victory gave more Rural Hospitals a better chance of keeping their doors open. Furthermore, a successful statewide ballot initiative in Rural Maine ushered in a first-ever voter-driven demand to expand affordable, quality health care coverage. The battle to protect healthcare is a model for activating, energizing and empowering activists from the grassroots level to the state capitals to Washington, DC.
  • We elected key lawmakers who successfully ran campaigns that focused on Rural Values and Priorities in critical races in Alabama and Virginia. In Alabama, we saw a return to the core value that “all politics is local,” allowing a race in that venerable Rural State to be run for its people, not for special interests and their singular causes. The incoming Virginia governor grew up on the Rural Eastern Shore. He talked about reversing the underinvestment in job creation needed to revitalize Rural Virginia — an example of how Rural America is influencing the national conversation from the local level.
  • Even where victory in elections escaped us, the battles were noble and hard fought. In four special House elections, Democrats outperformed Republicans in races that should have not even been close, yet they were all contested. Much was learned.
  • Our organization made strides this year in promoting voter registration, and we were steadfast in countering systematic voter suppression and intimidation that plagues Rural America. We worked to keep American elections American. We supported and enhanced get out the vote efforts at every level. Again, much was learned.
  • Across the country, we flatly rejected the forces of hate and bigotry that would seek to divide Rural Americans for the sake of their own narrow-minded and intolerant agendas. Righteous Rural Americans stood up and were counted among those who embraced inclusion, equality, harmony and good citizenship.

The Republicans trumpet the appointment of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as one of its crowning achievements of 2017, but we will never forgot that it was a seat stolen by GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell from a sitting Democratic leader for purely partisan gain. It was a gift to historians who will forever remember McConnell as a dishonest broker because of that partisan stunt.

While the Republican leadership branded itself as a do-nothing tribe willing to look the other way from charges and accusations brought against its members, from top to bottom, Democrats proved to be committed to dealing harshly with ethics violators among their own members.

Rural Americans are steadily becoming aware that they bought into a colossal lie in the 2016 elections. What Rural Voters got in return in 2017 was not what they paid for.

The promise for government of the people, by the people, for the people made by President Lincoln at Gettysburg reminds us now, as it did then, that our strength is in unity and prosperity for all of America. Our resolve in the fight to save Rural America grows stronger each day.

Roy Moore Won’t Do a Darn Thing to Fix Alabama’s Opioid Crisis

For too long the ruling party in Alabama has ignored the opioid crisis that is literally killing Rural Alabamians. Unless there is a political shake up, Alabama will likely remain atop the list of states with the worst opioid problem in the country.

Republicans like Roy Moore are the problem, refusing to see that Big Pharma, and not the misguided and over-hyped drug war blame game excuses, is going unpunished for the opioid epidemic in Alabama. “Opioids are not the only drug problem we have,” the out-of-touch Moore was quoted as saying recently in the Montgomery Advertiser.

Fortunately, at least two Alabama hospitals aren’t waiting for the state’s Republican leadership to step and do the right thing. Mobile-based Infirmary Health Hospitals Inc., and Monroe County Healthcare Authority this week joined a Mississippi-led class-action lawsuit taking aim at Big Pharma for allegedly pushing and profiteering from their highly addictive drugs.

Big Pharma hires 18 lobbyists on average every year to press the Alabama marketplace into buying and arguably over-prescribing their opioids. With high pressure lobbying like that it’s no surprise that Alabama has the most prescription opioid use in the nation.

The individual statistics for Alabama opioid use are shocking, according to recent statistics compiled by the Joint Economic Committee in Congress. For example, in 2015, 736 people died from drug overdoses in Alabama, compared to 122 people in significantly less populous Alaska. Doctors in Alabama prescribe 142.9 opioid pain relievers per 100 persons, compared to the national rate of 82.5 per 100 persons.

In addition, four of the 15 cities in the United States most plagued by the opioid epidemic are in Alabama, according to a separate private study.

The opioid crisis in Alabama and throughout Rural America will only get worse if the Republicans in Washington are allowed to pass Trumpcare, which of course we are seeing is JunkCare at best, and NoCare in the case of the most vulnerable among us. Alabama can’t afford seeing that happen. We need smart votes in Washington. Roy Moore won’t help with that.