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Obama campaign: Romney-Ryan budget cuts would gut rural American economic security

By JERRY HAGSTROM

CHICAGO — Even before presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that he had picked House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate, President Barack Obama’s campaign team had published a paper charging that a Romney-Ryan budget would hurt rural America by capping crop insurance subsidies for more than 50,000 farmers and making cuts to rural development, conservation and nutrition programs.

The three-page paper is entitled “Romney-Ryan Budget Cuts: Gutting Rural American Economic Security,” and includes citations and footnotes.

During a tour of the Obama re-election campaign national headquarters here on Thursday, Adam Fetcher, a deputy press secretary in charge of rural America, handed The Hagstrom Report the paper along with other campaign documents focused on agriculture and rural America.

“President Obama is making the rural economy built to last — one that invests in reclaiming the security of the rural middle class by growing products that the rest of the world buys, and restoring the basic values of fairness and opportunity that made our country great,” the paper says.

“That stands in stark contrast to Mitt Romney, who has endorsed the congressional Republican budget plan that would undercut our nation’s rural communities and our nation’s economy.”

Republican campaign officials have said this weekend that Romney has not endorsed every line of Ryan’s budget, but the Obama paper maintains that the budget Ryan wrote and that the Republican-controlled House adopted and that Romney had previously endorsed would “undermine farmers’ financial security by cutting subsidies for crop insurance premiums by more than 15 percent per year by capping premium subsidies at $30,000, taking much out of our farmers’ hard earned paychecks.”

In a footnote, the paper says, “If the Ryan proposal caps premium subsidies at $30,000, nearly 54,000 farmers who currently collect premiums over that amount — or 6 percent of farmers who insure their crops — would be required to pay more out of pocket to be insured against unexpected natural disasters. This cap is $10,000 beyond what the [Government Accountability Office] recommends as a cost-saving measure.”

(The Obama administration’s 2013 budget proposed changes that the Office of Management and Budget said would not affect many producers. That budget, released in February, but never adopted, would have lowered the crop insurance companies’ rate of return from 14 to 12 percent, capped companies’ administrative expenses by basing them on 2006 premiums, reduced the premium for catastrophic coverage by lowering reimbursement to crop insurance companies and reducing producers’ premium subsidy by two basis points for all but catastrophic crop insurance, where the subsidy is greater than 50 percent. The administration did not say how many farmers this last provision would affect.)

The paper also said that the Ryan budget would:
  • Undermine small business by reducing the availability of government loans
  • Strip loans to farmers and ranchers
  • Cut investments in clean energy
  • Cut improvements to water facilities
  • Cut housing assistance
  • Cut services to rural veterans
  • Weaken rural health care
  • Force the sales of public lands that are used for hunting, fishing, camping and hiking and contribute to the rural outdoor recreation industry.

The paper also says that the Romney-Ryan budget would undermine conservation programs and nutrition programs.

[See following story for the policy impact and political implications of proposals to cut the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), better known as food stamps.]