Chris Dodd backers

Chris Dodd supporters in Iowa.
Photo: Dodd Campaign

The Democrats debated Sunday morning. You missed them? Well, that’s why we have the Yonder.

(On the jump page, we’ll compare the ABC Sunday morning debates of both parties’ candidates using “tag clouds.”)

It’s not clear that much new was revealed in the 90 minutes of discussion that aired on ABC television. Unlike the Republicans the Ds did discuss briefly rural America. Blaine Banken, an Iowa farmer asked:

“I was wondering how you plan to help small farms as the large companies take over more farms?”

Here are the answers:

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut: “One of the areas we’ve got to have is a Justice Department that starts dealing with some of anti-trust issues in our country. It just doesn’t cover agriculture but also a variety of other things including media concentration here. The ability today of just concentrating power, allowing so much to be accumulated is making it difficult for the kind of independent and smaller interests including small business and small farmers to be able to grow and to have the kind of economic success they’d like to have. Rural America needs additional attention, as well here. I’m a great believer that we need to extend the broadband access to our rural communities. Opportunity shouldn’t require that you leave rural America to come to opportunity. But opportunity ought to be able to come to rural America by taking advantages of the technologies we have today so that people can stay on these farms and stay in rural parts of our country including Iowa.”

John Edwards arrives for Iowa ABC debate
John Edwards arrives for ABC debate in Des Moines.
Photo: Edwards Campaign

Former Sen. John Edwards: “Well, the first thing I’d say is I think we’ve had a failed trade policy in America. The question seems to have been on past trade agreements like NAFTA, is this trade agreement good for the profits of big multinational corporations. And the answer to those questions on the trade agreements we’ve entered into has been yes. It’s been very good for multinational corporations. It has not been good for American workers. And an Edwards administration the first question I will ask in every single trade agreement we’re considering is, is this good for middle class working families in America? That’ll be the threshold question. And second – we will have real labor and environmental standards in the text of the agreement which I will enforce. We will have protections against currency manipulation which the Chinese are engaged in right now and then finally, finally, we will end these loopholes that actually create tax incentives for companies to leave America and take jobs somewhere else. That needs to be brought to an end.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York: “Well, I agree with everything John said with the additional point that your question really raised and that is that we do export a lot of agricultural goods. Many of that through trade agreements and I think we’ve got to do three things. Number one, we have to have more focus on family farms like the gentleman who asked the question. We have 34,000 family farms largely in New York. I’ve tried to become a real advocate for them because they get lost in the shuffle. So I’ve created ways of working with them. I issued a report about how much difficulty they have getting their products across the border into Canada. So we’ve got to do more to make sure trade agreements are not only good for the exporting of agricultural products from great big agribusiness but also from small farmers. Secondly we’ve got to do more, as Chris said, to build up the agricultural and rural areas of our country. And thirdly, you know trade has to become a win-win. People ask me, am I a fair trader or a fair trader? I want to be a smart pro-American trader. And that means we look for ways to maximize the impact of what we’re trying to export and quit being taken advantage of by other countries.”

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois: “Well, I think that many of the recommendations that have been made are the right ones. There’s one other thing though we’ve got to talk about and that is that our Congress subsidizes these big mega farms and hurts family farmers oftentimes in the process. And we’ve got to, I think, cap those subsidies so that we don’t have continued concentration of agriculture in the hands of a few large agribusiness interests. But on the trade issue generally, we’re not going to suddenly cordon off America from the world. Globalization is here and I don’t think Americans are afraid to compete and we – we have the goods and the services and the skills and the innovation to compete anywhere in the world but what we’ve got to make absolutely certain of is that in that competition, we are hard bargainers. You know, I’m always struck by the Bush administration touting in is the NBA president and they’re such great businessmen and get taken to the cleaners in a lot of these trade agreements. And we’ve got to have somebody who’s negotiating on behalf of workers and family farmers right here in Iowa as opposed to someplace else.”

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico: “I want to find a way to make sure that the big agribusiness interests don’t hurt the small farmer, the family farmer. What we also need to do is to promote conservation. We need to promote, besides subsidy reform, renewable fuels and technology. Our farm policy if we have renewable fuel and renewable technology enormous exports, trade, jobs.”

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