That $460,000 buys a lot of bread bags.
Senator Joni Ernst, the newly elected senator from Iowa, gave the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday. In her response, she spoke glowingly of her
family's humble beginnings:
They had very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands. But they worked, they sacrificed, and they dreamed big dreams for their children and grandchildren.
And because they did, an ordinary Iowan like me has had some truly extraordinary opportunities because they showed me that you don’t need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference. You just need the freedom to dream big, and a whole lot of hard work.
To be clear, there can be no doubt farmers work hard. It's a work day that really never ends. But what Joni Ernst failed to mention is that her family did not succeed alone. They had a whole lot of federal help along the way:
Ernst’s father, Richard Culver, was given $14,705 in conservation payments and $23,690 in commodity subsidies by the federal government–with all but twelve dollars allocated for corn support. Richard’s brother, Dallas Culver, benefited from $367,141 in federal agricultural aid, with over $250,000 geared toward corn subsidies. And the brothers’ late grandfather Harold Culver received $57,479 from Washington—again, mostly corn subsidies—between 1995 and 2001. He passed away in January 2003.
The farm subsidies weren't the only payments her family benefited from:
A construction company owned by GOP Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst’s father received more than $200,000 in county contracts while she served as auditor of Montgomery County, Iowa, despite a strict conflict of interest code governing the provision of contracts to family members of county officials.
A new review of records — as well as an analysis of the Code of Iowa — by Salon reveals that the nature of the contracts and how they were promulgated, may have violated relevant county standards.
So, Joni Ernst can talk about other American families "living within their means" and having to use bread bags to cover her only pair of shoes, but she's willfully ignoring the assistance the U.S. government gave to her own family. No doubt her family worked hard, but they didn't exactly succeed by pulling themselves up alone. We, the American taxpayers, certainly gave them a hand-up when they needed it. Something Ernst would do well to remember as she works to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the very subsidies that saved her family more than once.