She used to criticize them fiercely, but the congresswoman's family farm gets federal assistance. So do Iowans.
Not long ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann viewed farm subsidies as "outrageous pork." But after a summer of blistering criticism about the nearly $260,000 in government handouts that went to a family farm partially owned by Bachmann and her husband, the archconservative and GOP presidential candidate softened her tone considerably in an interview with National Journal.
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While she insisted that "our federal budget needs a complete overhaul, and agricultural subsidies are no exception," Bachmann would not commit to doing away with them without seeing details of any future legislation. "If all farm subsidies were ended, that would be a complete change of policy over the last 80 to 90 years of American history, and that would be a very interesting vote," she said. "So, of course, I would have to look at that before I could tell you how I was going to cast my vote."
The Minnesotan's positions on subsidies are getting heightened scrutiny in agriculture-dependent Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucus in January. She has based her appeal to the tea party and other conservative activists on her commitment to a minimalist federal government that does not pick economic winners and losers. When the multiyear farm bill was under consideration in 2007, Bachmann opposed it in the House, saying that it was "loaded with unbelievably outrageous pork and subsidies for agricultural business and ethanol growers."