“I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment dictates to be right, without the yoke of any party on me… Look at my arms, you will find no party hand-cuff on them. ”
― David Crockett
These words of Congressman David “Davy” Crockett sadly are more folklore than reality in Congress today. It is a rare occurrence when a member of the majority party votes against the Speaker of the House. Thursday, Congressman Jimmy Duncan stood alone as the only Republican among Tennessee’s seven GOP members voting against the near $1 trilliion Farm Bill.
The Senate passed the bill a few days earlier by a wide margin. Speaker Boehner announced his support. In fact, the majority of Rep. Duncan’s GOP House Caucus was behind the bill. Still Conservatives, myself included, railed against the pork laden subsidies for corporate farming and anemic curbs on food stamps that account for 80% of the legislation’s costs, with little or nothing to assist small farmers. Rep. Duncan has long supported reforming crop insurance and farm subsidies. Farmers need less regulation and interference from regulators than handouts. Government policies destroyed the dairy farms in Tennessee under the guise of supports. There has been a 42% increase in Tennessee families receiving food stamps. No one would deny hungry families, but we have had to curb use of EBT cards from strip clubs and casinos in Tennessee.
In the end the Farm Bill was over 1,000 pages and weighed 24 lbs. I joked earlier that the Armed Forces were considering the ability to lug the Farm Bill around a gender neutral test for combat positions, as it weighed almost half as much as a tank round. However, besides the usually porcine padding and loopholes for large multi-national agribusiness, this Farm Bill went out of its way to be creative with government largesse. Included among the pages and pages of pork, the declaration of Martha’s Vineyard (left), tony playground for the rich as famous, as an agricultural zone, making the summer homes and mansions eligible for government backed mortgages. Clearly, Rep. Jimmy Duncan made a courageous, but common sense vote in helping defeat this bill. It will stand beside his prophetic vote against the Iraq War as one of his defining statesmanlike votes in the U.S. House of Representatives. I remain proud to call Jimmy Duncan my Congressman.