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September 28, 2004
Kerry Tries To Milk Dairy Farmers

Seldom has a presidential campaign seen such bald-faced pandering as John Kerry demonstrated yesterday in Spring Green, Wisconsin. With a polling deficit nearing double digits in a state Al Gore carried last election, Kerry tried stemming the bleeding by sucking up to Wisconsin's dairy farmers. Long a supporter of the Northeastern Dairy Compact that put the screws to Midwestern producers, Kerry told the Spring Green farmers that he now has seen the light:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told voters in America's Dairyland on Monday that President Bush had a secret plan that would hurt milk producers after the election. ...

In the 1990s, Kerry supported the Northeast Dairy Compact, a regional pricing program that propped up prices for Northeastern dairy farmers over objections from their Midwestern counterparts.

"We've had a difference between the Midwest and the Northeast," Kerry said. "I'm going to be very upfront with you about it.

"As a senator representing Massachusetts, I fought for the dairy compact and fought to have our dairy farmers get help," the four-term lawmaker said. "I'm running for president of the United States now and I intend to represent all the farmers of America."

Oh, so now that his Senate record generates opposition throughout the Midwestern region, he suddenly repudiates it, and not for any high-minded ideals. He admits that he supported the NDC and New England dairy farmers for purely political profit ... but now that he needs more support, he's glad to give his former supporters the shaft in order to win Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

How much more cynical can one get?

Well, perhaps it's instructive to recall a little more history of the Northeastern Dairy Compact. Jim Jeffords, formerly a Republican Senator from Vermont, changed his party affiliation shortly after George Bush was elected in order to throw control of the Senate to the Democrats for the remainder of their session. One of Jeffords' pet projects was the NDC, whose protectionism benefitted Vermont dairymen at the expense of their counterparts in the Midwest and elsewhere. Up to that time, some Democrats had pressed for an end to what had been sold as a temporary measure for short-term relief.

The NDC, or NEIDC as it sometimes is called, had bipartisan support from New England senators such as Jeffords, Leahy, and Kerry, as well as Republican support in order to keep Jeffords from bolting to the Democrats. As mentioned, Midwestern Democrats attempted to kill the program in order to assist their own constituencies. As soon as Jeffords went independent, Democrats such as Kerry tried to keep the program afloat, but the program expired without the broader support Jeffords could extort from the GOP.

Even though supporting the NDC was actually one of Kerry's more consistent policy stands, he now repudiates it as he claims to be representing all of the US now as a presidential candidate. But if the NDC was so bad for the country, perhaps Kerry could explain why he continously supported it as a member of the US Senate.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 28, 2004 10:11 AM

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