Republican Sen. George Voinovich likes Ohio agriculture. Even though Democrat Director Robert Boggs, occupies the main office of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, it was clear last week that the senior senator feels at home holding his annual farm forum in the upstairs conference room of the Bromfield Building, which was built during his administration. In fact Greg Hargett, deputy director, opened the meeting by bringing out a 20-year-old photograph of then Gov. Voinovich taking the reins of the horse driven plow that broke ground for the new structure. “Look here’s your younger brother at the opening ceremony,” Hargett teased.
For the most part the session was about Voinovich reporting to the commodity and farmer leaders what he has been working on in Washington and in turn the audience offering their own agendas on what needs to be considered. The key issues for the senator were consumer confidence, credit, energy, bioproducts, international trade and the budget. Each of the dozen farm groups represented had their own spin on those topics and a few others.
Voinovich showed real emotion as he discussed the current economic status. The news of bonus being paid to employees of AIG clearly did not sit well with him. “What a mess. Those guys are a bunch of greedy you know whats,” Voinovich fumed as he pounded the table. “We give them help and then they pull this. I’d say to them, maybe there is a contract, but times have changed.”
It sounded a little to me like the senator was perturbed to have voted in approval of the $170 billion AIG bail out without having taken steps to make sure there was some oversight on how the money was to be spent. For a politician who has staked his career on being what he calls “a fiscal hawk,” there has been a pretty big run on tax payer’s pocket during the last few years. It seems that he has real regrets about it. Having announced that he will not run again Voinovich seems to be ready to make a stand for budget balancing.
“There will be a $1.7 trillion deficit in 2009. We will have to borrow $1.7 trillion to cover it. We cannot keep going the way we are. It will be crushing on the economy crushing on you and your family and crushing on your grandchildren.”
Another place Voinovich promised to make a stand was against the animal rights activities of organizations that are targeting Ohio for livestock eliminating legislation. I’ve heard the Humane Society of the U.S. is coming to Ohio and I would like to stay up to date on that,” Voinovich said. I’ve killed casino legislation in Ohio four times and I am willing to go out and kill this too. We need to take it on full square.”
Ironically, when Sandy Kuhn, executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition relayed the organization’s concern about anti-meat proposals by the Cincinnati City Council, Voinovich told her he feared she was fighting a losing battle. He then revealed that four of his grandchildren would not eat meat. “Where is this coming from?” he asked.
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