I notice that Hotflash has posted a call to action, asking progressives to turn out Friday to petition our Democratic emissary to Washington, Senator Claire McCaskill, to do what Democrats ought to do reflexively – protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, three of the pillars that supported the growth of middle class prosperity in the last century, while mitigating the worst effects of poverty. A worthwhile endeavor for sure, but when the petitioners get to McCaskill’s office, I hope that they ask her why she cares more about the welfare of a few farmers who tied their prosperity to ethanol than she does about seniors and poor children all over the country.
That’s right, Claire plays favorites. As the Post-Dispatch noted, McCaskill was one of those farm-state Democrats that joined the 59 vote majority that killed Senator Tom Curburn’s (R-Oklahoma) effort to get rid of ethanol subsidies and open the U.S. market to more efficient alternative fuels produced in countries like Brazil. Ethanol subsidies are popular with farmers who grow corn and arguably with the fossil-fuel industry that mixes ethanol with gasoline, hoping to reap mucho green credit for so doing – but with just about nobody else, including environmentalists. Nevertheless, since Missouri has lots of farmers who grow corn, it’s easy to see what Claire hopes to gain.
The Post-Dispatch riffs on the obvious dissonance between McCaskill’s loudly-proclaimed deficit-cutting fervor and her eagerness to prolong this particular example of wasteful government spending. And that’s an important point to make. Hypocrisy does gall, even when the hypocrites are politicians who are all expected to master the art early on in their careers.
What strikes me, though, is the sheer unfairness of her priorities. Farmers? Claire’ll be with ’em no matter how much it costs the government. No need to go whinging to her office. Poor children and seniors? Apparently we’ve got to beg her to keep them in mind, and when we’re done begging, we’ll parse her answers carefully to figure out where she’ll finally land – and how hard. We’ll have to cross our fingers that her better angels, her Democratic angels, prevail.
I’m away from Missouri for awhile so I won’t be joining the good souls who will meet at Senator McCaskill’s office on Friday. I only hope they don’t to forget to remind her that we don’t only have farmers here in Missouri; we also have lots of poor children and elderly who have nobody but her in the Senate to defend them against the got-mine mentality of the GOP.