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In support of President Obama

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August 3, 2012
By Gary Lamb - Member, Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee. , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee.

This group will work to promote the President's strong record of supporting rural America and our Nation's farmers and ranchers by creating rural economics built to last and rewarding the small town values like hard work, personal responsibility and fairness. The group will draw a contrast with the President's record and Mitt Romney's lack of knowledge and experience in rural America.

The Steering committee is a diverse group of Iowans, from all corners of the State, with experience in everything from farming and business, to education and healthcare.

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Iowa's small towns and rural communities were built on the values, ideals and beliefs that are so deeply embedded in the rural areas that crisscross and dot the rural roads across Iowa and our Nation.

Family and community come first and if you're willing to work hard, you can make a good life for yourself and a better one for your kids.

President Obama's vision for America is to provide the leadership to make sure young people are able to find good jobs and opportunities where they grew up, so that can raise families as generations did before them.

Since Harry Truman, over sixty years ago, the vast majority of our Presidents have come from the East Coast, West Coast and Southern border. Today, we have a President from the neighboring State of Illinois, who understands the economy and culture of Iowa and the great Midwest. He believes we may never really succeed in moving our Nation and our people across the bridge into the 21st Century, if we forget, abandon and leave behind the industry, the people and the rural areas of our Country that have fed our Nation so well for so long.

He understands that when Iowa's rural economy is strong, the State is strong. Today Iowa's unemployment rate is at a three year low, falling to 5.1 percent in April. manufacturing jobs in Iowa are at the highest level since january 2009. The state added over 20,000 manufacturing jobs since July 2009, due in part to the growth in the renewable energy sector. The President promotes clean energy wind farms and the next generation of biofuels to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and move toward homegrown energy. Production of biofuels and wind energy are at an all-time high, by creating 40,000 clean energy jobs in Iowa. Rural Iowa has helped lead the United States to the lowest reliance on foreign oil in sixteen years.

Under President Obama, Iowa farmers are seeing record farm income along with record farm exports. Iowa's net farm income has more than doubled since 2002, and if nature cooperates with some badly needed rain, net farm incomes could set a record high this crop year.

It is extremely important to understand that most agriculture economists agree that for every earned dollar agriculture receives, it turns over seven to nine times though our economy creating jobs and additional revenue to fund basic needed programs without raising taxes.

The President signed three historic trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, which will create tens of thousands of jobs by further increasing Iowa's agriculture exports and manufactured goods. Two weeks ago, we exported our first sales of corn and corn by-products to Columbia under the Free Trade Agreement. He understands the need for a strong safety net and farm bill. By increasing and strengthen crop insurance and emergency assistance to help farmers after national disasters, crop loss or rapid drop in market prices.

Small businesses are a vital part of Iowa's rural communities. In 2011, the President helped provide 674 small businesses in rural Iowa with the tools they needed to create jobs and cut taxes for small business eighteen times.

Iowa's economy is more than agriculture and renewable energy. Part of that is learning that we have to live within our means. President Obama supports a balance approach to deficit reduction that will protect social security and Medicare for our seniors and invest ineducation, clean energy and research needed to grow the disappearing middle class. President Obama has a plan to cut four trillion from the deficit by eliminating wasteful spending while closing tax loopholes for big oil companies, corporations and asking millionaires and billionaires to simply pay the same tax rate as an average working family.

Rural Iowans realize that we prosper when everyone does his fair share and everyone from Wall Street to Main Street play by the same rules. President Obama will promote rules that protect consumers and stop Wall Street from playing the same risky financial games that lead to this crisis.

President Obama's leadership brought about Health Care Reform, which was recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court, financial reform, credit card reform and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 that calls for equal pay for women who have the same job as a man. While Mitt Romney said we should let the troubled auto industry go bankrupt. President Obama saved them by choosing a different course by providing help short term. Today our auto industry leads the world once again. The Recovery Act cut taxes for most middle class families and according to our Office of Management & Budget saved 3.6 million jobs by providing stimulus money to states so they could balance their budgets without raising taxes or laying off hundreds of thousands of policemen, firemen, teachers and city workers so vital to their communities!

We all should agree there are areas that too much regulation can slow incentive and hurts job creation but too little regulation in some sectors of our economy are harmful as well. BP's disastrous spill in the Gulf didn't occur because there were too many regulations on the big oil industry, or the big Wall Street banks didn't pursue the extremely risky diversities, hedge funds, and subprime loans because there were too many regulations on the big banks. After doing away with most regulations on big banks in the 90s, it gave them an open door to pursue risky ventures. They knew it was risky because they took out insurance in case too many of these big housing loans went under, which is what happened.

And perhaps most of all, we are honoring our Nation's commitment we have to our Veterans! Those who are willing to wear a uniform shouldn't have to fight to get a job or benefits they have earned. President Obama expanded VA Health Care funding and education benefits and gave new tax incentives to hire unemployed and disabled veterans. His leadership led to passing a new GI Bill of Rights for returning Veterans, which was so vital to returning Vets after World War II.

And finally, as someone who began farming as a 14 year old on October 7, 1952 after losing my father in a farm accident, I have seen tremendous change in the last 60 years, some good and some not so good.

The heart of the economic life in small communities, under several thousand populations, is small business. As the number of family farms decline over the decades, there is a direct correlation to the decline of small business on our main streets. When the average age of people in any industry is approaching retirement age, that industry clearly has a seriousinternal structural problem, yet the average age of our Nation's farmers and ranchers is approximately 60 years of age. Who or what will replace us? And how will that affect our land, water, rural communities and rural Nation as a whole?

Maybe we should all try to think outside of the box a little bit and recognize the heart of this whole rural issue is much deeper, broader and meaningful than what kind of agricultureand face will appear in rural America in another decade or two.

What we simply do or do not do in regard to this question, will define the very characterof ourselves as a Nation, and illustrate not only to us but the World around us; the kind of Nation we become as we move deeper into this millennium.

Are we a Nation that continues to pursue policies that concentrate our vast wealth andresources into the hands of fewer and fewer people, or are we really a Nation and a peoplewho believe in the basic, fundamental principal that many people were intended to share in the great wealth and abundance the good Lord blessed us all with. All we should desire is the leadership to help create an atmosphere that provides more people with the opportunity topursue the American dream, the success or failure will depend on individual efforts and work ethic.

So the question is what kind of policy and programs are needed to move us in a more positive direction? I can't ask or answer that question; I'm too close to it after 60 years.

On November 6, the American people will have to decide if we want to revitalize someof our rural communities and strengthen rural America for the good of our Nation and the American people and more forward, or will we continue on to drift backwards, and pursue policies that give even more wealth, power and influence to the 1% and Mitt Romney. "The choice is yours!"

Gary Lamb Chelsea



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