Together at Last

It’s clear that rural and small town America’s contributions to the nation more than justify limited federal assistance

By Diane Smith

Stop the presses! Far left Democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the far right conservative group Americans for Prosperity are in passionate agreement about … Wait for it… The need to end corporate welfare!

According to Sanders’ website, “Bernie finds it outrageous that the most profitable corporations continue to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies each year.” David Herbst, of Americans for Prosperity, wrote recently in this very paper, “Americans for Prosperity Montana opposes corporate welfare. And we are proud of that stance.”

While the political far left and far right are in such lockstep about this matter, let’s get on it! I think a sit-down between Sanders and AFP is in order, followed by a white-paper that examines in detail this extraordinary meeting of the minds.

Of course, this far left/far right pairing would end all agriculture subsidies. (I suspect most Americans would agree with this position, since most of that money is going to large agri-businesses, but here in Montana it could get dicey.) And, to stay intellectually consistent, they’d have to zero out the home mortgage interest deduction, which is just another form of corporate welfare for banks that lend to homeowners. The universal service fund that subsidizes internet service prices in rural locations so that those of us living off the beaten path don’t pay several times more than our urban neighbors for a broadband connection? It’ll have to go, too.

But then what? Rural states like New Mexico, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Montana, and West Virginia are the top recipients of federal funds. Do conservatives from these states move to big cities and become liberals? Or will the transplanted conservatives convert the liberals? One of those options might be the real AFP/Bernie Sanders agenda!

I’m no fan of frivolous government spending, but I believe that imperiling rural hospitals, schools, transportation systems, or broadband is foolhardy. Indeed, I think it’s clear that rural and small town America’s contributions to the nation more than justify limited federal assistance for hospital, broadband, road, or school projects that are beyond the reach of many communities with low density populations. Of course, any such spending should be subject to strict scrutiny and the penalties for waste, fraud, or abuse should be substantial.

Or, those of us in rural and small towns can do it the AFP/Bernie Sanders way… and go it alone. After all, who cares if rural and small town residents suffer? I’m sure that AFP and President Sanders will figure it out for us. Just the two of them. Together at last.

Learn more about Diane by following her column here or visit American Rural at AmericanRural.org.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.