Ordinarily, Congress easily passes an agriculture bill called the “farm bill,” but that was before the worst Congress ever. This year, the Democratic Senate approved the measure, but House Republicans are blocking it, despite the assistance it would provide to drought-stricken farmers.
Yesterday, President Obama was in Iowa, one of many states hard hit by the drought, and reminded voters of legislation that needs to pass. “Unfortunately right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law,” Obama said. “I am told that Gov. 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. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.”
The comments apparently rankled House GOP leaders.
On its website and in an email Monday, House Speaker John Boehner’s office said President Obama needs to take personal responsibility for the drought ravaging the Midwest.
Obama, “continues to blame anyone and everyone for the drought but himself,” reads a release from Boehner’s office posted online and distributed to reporters Monday. The quote was attributed to Boehner himself in a Financial Times story. The online post and the press release came from Boehner spokesperson Kevin Smith.
Now, opinions can certainly vary when it comes to the president’s strengths and weaknesses, but Boehner seems to have taken admiration of Obama’s powers to a whole new level – the House Speaker seems to think the president can singlehandedly create drought conditions.
For the record, Obama is not to blame for the drought; Obama supports the farm bill that Boehner’s caucus won’t pass. What’s more, the president announced yesterday that his administration will offer $170 million in federal assistance for farmers struggling through the drought.
Boehner’s office later revised the language of its odd press release, saying Obama’s to blame for the farm bill’s problems because Boehner expects the president to convince the Senate to pass the House’s version of the bill – and Obama deserves the blame since that hasn’t happened.
I’m beginning to think the Speaker isn’t especially good at his job.
Postscript: And if Boehner is serious about addressing the causes behind the drought, we can also talk about his caucus’ rejection of climate science, which also isn’t the president’s fault.