Colorado Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bennet believes Iowa farmers have been shortchanged by the policies of President Donald Trump. Bennet discussed that and other topics with the Manchester Press Oct. 20.
“We should have a farm economy in this country that comprehends that our growth is going to come from international markets,” Bennet said. “I think the president was right to call the question on China, but he did it exactly the wrong way.”
Bennet called Iowa farmers “sacrificial pawns in the president’s trade policy.”
“He did this in a way that put farmers in the crosshairs. Tariffs came at a time when commodity prices were already terrible. The weather was terrible and input prices were going up.”
Bennet said markets in Asia and other parts of the world for agriculture are key to stability for producers.
“Think how hard it was for our farmers to open up foreign markets. Now China is buying soybeans from Brazil. What President Trump has done with China is he’s given away our leverage. Now China gets to decide the terms and what the outcome is going to be.”
Bennet praised the ethanol industry in Iowa, but noted they are also being shortchanged by policies coming from the administration.
“They have built an economy out of parts of rural Iowa, but they need predictability and know there won’t be waivers given to any refinery that asks for one. Ethanol producers aren’t getting a fair shake. In this case, the president is rewarding his campaign contributors as well as the gas and oil industry.”
He said farmers and landowners can play a vital role in his climate change plan.
“My plan calls for direct investment in clean energy and to also use working lands to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. We can pay farmers to do that. It’s practices to enhance the health of the soil.”
Before being elected to the Senate, Bennet served as superintendent of the Denver, Colo. school system. He called for an overhaul of the American education system.
“We’ve had the greatest income inequality for the last 50 years. Today education is reinforcing that income inequality both in urban and rural areas. There are many reasons for it, but one of them is we are running an 18th-century education system in the 21st century.”
Bennet said teachers are underpaid and that he would support a six-day school week. “That’s not just a job for the federal government. That’s for state and local communities to work with a president that has actually run a school district and decide we are going to recommit our education system to the 21st century.”
Bennet also discussed gun reforms Colorado enacted after the shooting at Columbine High School and the movie theater in Aurora.
“We passed background checks after Columbine. That was a ballot initiative voted on by Colorado citizens. What they mean in Colorado is every year 2% or 3% of those who try to buy a firearm are denied because they are violent felons. Those are the same background checks waiting on Mitch McConnell’s desk that he won’t allow to come to a vote.”
The Aurora shootings spurred Colorado to limit the size of magazine clips. “In that shooting, the shooter showed up with a clip that could hold 100 rounds. Nobody needs that. There is no Second Amendment right to have a 100-round magazine.”
Whether talking about the economy, gun control or climate, Bennet accused President Trump of not facing facts.
“When did we stop being people who innovate? When did we start being the people who bury our heads in the sand? That’s Donald Trump on everything.”
He said the president is creating uncertainty for the American people. “It’s really unbelievable. Every day we wake up not knowing what he’s going to do next. You can’t run your farm that way, you can’t run your business or school that way. And I don’t believe you can run America that way.”