The House Budget Committee Chairman is "standing in the way" of passage, President says; Romney campaign fires back...
Kicking off his three-day campaign bus tour through Iowa on Monday morning, President Obama accused Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) of leading GOP efforts to block a new Farm Bill in the House. Speaking at his first stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to a crowd estimated at 4,300 gathered in a downtown park, the President was blunt as he laid the blame for the House infighting at the doorstep of the newly announced GOP vice presidential candidate. The drought, the President said, makes rapid passage of the Farm Bill crucial. (Above: The President during his remarks)
"Right now folks here in Iowa and across the heartland, we're suffering from one of the worst droughts in fifty years," President Obama said. "The best way to help these states is for the folks in Congress to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes some necessary reforms and gives farmers and ranchers some long-term certainty."
"Unfortunately, right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law," President Obama said. "I am told that Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the next few days--he is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way."
The President was rewarded with boos. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, was scheduled to be at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Monday afternoon, making his first solo appearance as the GOP nominee.
"So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities," President Obama said. "We've got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa."
The Senate passed its own version of the Farm Bill in June, but the House has not managed to agree on a final version, and went in to the August recess with the business unfinished. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30. The President used his weekly address on Saturday to discuss the drought, and asked citizens to pressure lawmakers to pass the Farm Bill, by writing and calling them.
Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Mitt Romney, released a statement shooting down the President's remarks, which the White House had pre-released in a partial transcript. Williams said the President was launching “false attacks.”
“Paul Ryan hails from an agriculture state and supported disaster relief, and the truth is no one will work harder to defend farmers and ranchers than the Romney-Ryan ticket,” Williams said.
“After nearly four years of failure, it’s no wonder that Barack Obama returns to the state that launched his presidential campaign with nothing more than broken promises and false attacks. Iowans deserve better. As president, Mitt Romney will strengthen middle-class families in the heartland, create jobs, and turn our economy around.”
A farm visit, and a multi-million-dollar USDA meat purchase...
The White House on Monday added a farm visit to President Obama's bus tour schedule, announced aboard Air Force One as the President was en route to Iowa. A new federal purchase of meat was also announced on Monday by USDA, to help livestock producers impacted by the drought. USDA said it will purchase "up to" $170 million worth of chicken, pork, catfish and lamb, and credited rising feed prices with the decision.
"Today, we’re announcing that the federal government will help livestock producers by purchasing over $150 million worth of meat and fish right now, while prices are low -- we'll freeze it for later, but--we've got a lot of freezers," the President told the Council Bluffs crowd, to laughter.
"And that way, that will help ranchers who are going through tough times right now, and also, over the long term, obviously that food is going to be spent by folks at the Pentagon and other places."
The President during his remarks in Council Bluffs also announced that he, too, might make a stop at the Iowa State Fair. (Above: A photo of the Council Bluffs crowd)
"We're going to be heading east and I think I'm going to end at the State Fair," the President said to applause. "Michelle has told me I cannot have a fried Twinkie."
The President will spend the night in Des Moines. It's a little bit stunning that both the fair visit and the farm visit were after-thoughts to the President's schedule of events. The three-day tour of Iowa is the longest single-state tour the President has made since taking office, and the White House announced it two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, the President will travel to Oskaloosa, Marshalltown, and Waterloo for campaign events. He will remain overnight in Cedar Rapids. On Wednesday, the President will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, and they will travel to Dubuque and Davenport for more campaign events before returning to Washington, DC in the evening.
The transcript of the President's remarks.
CLICK HERE for all posts about the bus tour.
CLICK HERE for all posts about the Administration's drought response.
*Top photo by Getty; second by Obama for America/Iowa