Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Public Affairs/Illinois Channel exclusive:Vilsack’s first national interview goes to Berkowitz after Vilsack nominated to be Obama’s Agriculture Sec

Jeff Berkowitz: What about price supports? As a Secretary of Agriculture Designee, is there any preconception that you come to [your new position] with [as to] that issue?
Team Obama informed the media present at this morning's Obama press conference at the Drake Hotel in Chicago that Governor Vilsack would be doing an interview or two with only local Iowa reporters because they had driven "all the way in from Iowa." The press conference was for President-Elect Obama to introduce Senator Salazar [D-Colorado] as Obama's Interior Secretary designee and former Governor Vilsack [D-Iowa] as Obama's Agriculture Secretary designee. Berkowitz, who had taken the train “all the way in from Chicago’s North Shore,” thought he deserved the opportunity to ask at least one question to Obama’s Agriculture Secretary Designee Vilsack. Take a listen, below. [Berkowitz did about about a twenty minute video interview with Gov. Vilsack about six months ago-- time to revisit that tape].
Should we have Agricultural Price Supports and other farm subsidies?

Agricultural price supports? There is no good economic rationale for them. They simply raise the price of commodities above the market price, causing demand to fall and supply to rise, creating surpluses, which essentially become a free lunch for rats. The U. S. Government, having created that problem, then pays farmers not to use their land for agriculture, in an effort to benefit the farmers, without the embarrassment of free lunches for rats.

The government, being the government, then complicates the problem further in many ways that go far beyond the scope of this post. And the waste gets worse and worse. Farmers, who had tremendous political power at the USA’s inception, have kept a variety of agricultural subsidies going, even though their political power is diminished. Indeed, it is Agric-business that has the greater political power now, and those entities exercise their political power to keep the senseless subsidies flowing.

Of course, if there are some low income farmers who require assistance, give it to them as we would any low income individuals. But, don’t screw up the agricultural sector of the economy with price supports, etc. That’s what any good economist, i.e., someone with a Ph.D. from or a teaching affiliation with the University of Chicago economics department or Booth School of Business will tell you [There is also at least one MIT Ph.D./Harvard Professor who makes the cut, as well].

Recent 2008 farm bill? Obama said yes. McCain said no.

The recent, 2008 farm bill was a continuation of the economic waste practiced by the U. S. government as to its agricultural policy. Then Democratic Presidential candidate Obama supported it; Then Republican Presidential candidate McCain opposed it. For an analysis of why Obama was wrong and McCain was right, read the views of Greg Mankiw, currently Professor of Economics, Harvard University and previously Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005 [and an MIT Ph. D.].

Getting the ball rolling with Gov. Vilsack

Having the opportunity to ask only one question this morning to Agriculture Secretary Designee Vilsack, this reporter couldn’t do the necessary follow-ups to flesh this issue out with the Secretary. However, we did get the ball rolling. And, I am sure my national colleagues will follow up soon with Secretary Designee Vilsack to see if he will be “innovative and creative,” in his attempts to reduce wasteful agricultural price supports and other mechanisms used to subsidize, wastefully, agriculture.

Following up with President-Elect Obama

Of course, if given the opportunity, this reporter might do the necessary follow-up at one of President-Elect Obama’s upcoming pressers. After all, “Obama attempted to frame his choices today as two men [Vilsack and Salazar] bringing a ‘new kind of leadership in Washington,’ and assured that ‘the policies being shaped at the Departments of Agriculture and Interior are designed to serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence- peddlers, but family farmers and the American people.’” [Emphasis supplied]. See here.
Jeff Berkowitz: Governor, Jeff Berkowitz for the Illinois Channel and Public Affairs

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture Designee, Obama Administration; former Governor, Iowa: Hi

Jeff Berkowitz: Can you answer just one question?

Governor Vilsack: I’ll try, I have a car coming out to get me.

Jeff Berkowitz: What about price supports? As a Secretary of Agriculture Designee, is there any preconception that you come to [your new position] with [as to] that issue?

Governor Vilsack: I would just simply say that this is a difficult time, economically and in the country, and the focus has to be on promoting and stimulating the economy. Every department of government is going to have to be creative and innovative. I obviously haven’t had an opportunity to sit down and talk to folks about various policies or individual decisions yet, but I do know that the challenge for us is to be innovative and creative. And, we will be.
Governor Tom Vilsack, Secretary of U. S. Department of Agriculture Designee, Obama Administration, December 17, 2008, as he was leaving the Drake Hotel in Chicago, where President-Elect Obama had just indicated, at a press conference, that he was nominating Governor Vilsack to join his cabinet.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs,"; Contributing Correspondent, Illinois Channel; and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include shows with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont), Cook County Commissioner and possible 5th CD Dem. Primary candidate Mike Quigley (D-Lakeview), State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Cook County Cmsr. and Obama Media Team Member Forrest Claypool and much more.