U.S. stocks soared this week after America’s Central Bank unveiled new efforts to jump-start the economy.
On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced the Fed will spend $40 billion a month to buy mortgage bonds in hopes of stimulating the beleaguered housing sector.
The Fed plans to hold short-term interest rates at record lows through mid-2015… six months longer than previously planned. And Bernanke signaled he’s ready to try additional measures if hiring doesn't pick up.
Wall Street cheered the Federal Reserve announcement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 200 points on the news while the S&P 500 soared to its highest level since 2007. Stocks added to their gains Friday and settled with a weekly increase of over 300 points.
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign said the Fed's latest efforts to boost the economy are "further confirmation that President Obama's policies have not worked."
Both campaigns dispatched surrogates to The Heartland this week to champion their economic agenda in a Presidential Forum on agriculture.
Surrogates for both the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama presidential campaigns trekked to the heartland this week to defend their respective candidates in the realm of agricultural policy. Speaking at the World Food Prize headquarters in Des Moines, former Iowa Lt. Gov. and state Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge vigorously defended President Obama’s response to the 2012 drought.
Patty Judge, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture 1998-2006: “In this recent drought the president has taken concrete steps to help farmers and ranchers to manage devastating conditions. He’s making loans more accessible to farmers and small business and he’s working with crop insurance companies so that farm families effected by the drought will have a longer grace period to make those payments on their insurance premiums.”
Nebraska Senator and former USDA Secretary Mike Johanns blasted back at the Obama Administration for underutilizing available government tools during this year’s drought conditions.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R – Nebraska: “And I hate to tell you the biggest problem I had, was where to begin with Barack Obama. I’ve been there those four years in the United States senate and I don’t use this terminology lightly, but he has been anti agriculture. The USDA in their own analysis said 50-60 million acres will be set aside. Not for cropland but to plant trees. Do you know how much that would aggravate the current drought conditions.”
Ongoing debate in Washington over the 2012 farm bill spilled over into the Presidential Ag forum as both surrogates advocated swift passage of the comprehensive legislation.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R – Nebraska: “Let’s go to work on the farm bill. Let’s take the politics out of it. Let’s get good policy and we can get there. We can get a farm bill passed. We did it in the senate.”
Patty Judge, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture 1998-2006: “The truth is that we have to get that farm bill passed. We’ve got to get down the road with that because these disaster programs are expiring. I really hate to see this whole thing being used as a political football but I’m afraid it is an election time and a certain amount of that is going on.”
But the agreement between both parties didn’t last long. Senator Johanns blasted the Obama Administration over a series of incidents he called “anti-agriculture.”
Sen. Mike Johanns, R – Nebraska: “The estate tax. His budget proposed that instead of leaving your farm and ranch to the next generation, you’ll leave a substantial part of it to the federal government.
Think about the dust regulations. I know the EPS is out there today saying “Oh we never meant to do it.”
The milk regulation... Do you remember that one? They were going to treat milk spills the same as an oil spills.
Come to find out the EPA was taking airplanes up and flying at 1,500 feet to spy on producers.
The health care bill… I’ve got bad news for farmers and ranchers. They’re a part of this class where their premiums are going to go up and not go down.”
Judge accused Johanns of twisting the truth and misrepresenting the President’s record.
Patty Judge, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture 1998-2006: “There are no drones. There are no dust regulations. I lived through the 1990’s on a small farm in southern Iowa. I’m going to stand here and tell you that trickle down economics, does not work. It has never worked.”