Bachmann Only Hates Government Some of the Time
In private, she works hard to get federal aid for all kinds of projects in her district
Michele Bachmann had quite a reputation among her colleagues in the Minnesota state house in the 2000s. Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz reports that fellow state senators "quickly labeled her a conspiracy theorist." And they weren't shy about it either: "When she spoke on the Senate floor or in committee meetings, they mockingly rolled their pointer fingers in the air to symbolize black helicopters."
How'd she get that reputation? During her early days of political activism in the late 1990s, Bachmann was concerned that some government education programs were a threat to intellectual liberty, The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reports. At a lecture in front of a Minnesota church, Bachmann decried state education standards, particularly vocational training. She warned, "Government now will be controlling people... What has history shown us about planned, state economies in the last one hundred years? Think Fascism, think Communism, think socialism. Think, the state-planned economies, totalitarianism. Think Cuba! Do you want Cuba's economy or do you want the United States of America’s economy?”
But that was the old Bachmann! More importantly, that was the public Bachmann. In private, apparently, Bachmann doesn't think ol' Uncle Sam was so bad.
The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports that as a congresswoman, Bachmann worked hard to get federal aid to her district. He details nine separate occasions when she appealed directly to federal agencies to get money for local projects. Among them:
In February 2007, well before Obama was in office, Bachmann co-signed a letter to the EPA urging its officials to help fund technical assistance programs and rural water initiatives "in small communities across Minnesota." The authors of the letter, which included nearly the entire Minnesota congressional delegation at the time, noted that FY 2006 funding for the National Rural Water Association had been set at $11 million. "We need to continue these efforts in 2007," they wrote. ...In a Feb. 2, 2010, letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, she asked the agency to support a $270,806 grant application (filed with the EPA's Clean Diesel Grant Program) that would help a St. Cloud bus company replace two older motor coach vehicles.
Slate's Dave Weigel finds the EPA particularly interesting, since she wants to abolish the EPA.
The thing about Bachmann's pitch, which I've now seen three versions of in Iowa, is that it's laced with stories about how she acted behind closed doors. She led the fight against TARP, and gave Paulson what-for! She led the fight against health care reform! She likes to tell a new story about a confrontation in the White House when she asked President Obama "what's your plan to save Medicare?" and he responded "mumble, mumble, mumble, Obamacare." Behind other closed doors, she was working the system like anyone else.
This should actually be comforting to anyone disturbed by the "Crazy Eyes" reputation Bachmann has developed: it means when it comes right down to it, she's pretty practical.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.