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VAN METER, Iowa – GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama's rural record Tuesday, saying he will ease burdensome regulations and "kill the death tax" as part of his plan to bolster agriculture and rural America.
Romney told an estimated 1,300 supporters who tromped over bean stubble's and corn stover for a campaign rally at the James and Margaret Koch farm that he has major differences with President Obama on trade, energy, taxation and regulatory issues that directly affect farm operations, as well as how to create needed jobs and get the nation's economy back on track to recovery.
"These are tough times with real serious issues so you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird," said Romney, referring to a post-debate dust up over the GOP candidates support for cutting funding for public broadcasting. "I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future, and also saving the family farm."
Romney said his rural agenda would implement tax policies that support family farms and agribusiness, pursue trade policies intended to bolster the agriculture sector rather than limit it, ease onerous government regulations on farmers and businesses, and adopt energy policies that achieve independence by 2020.
The former Massachusetts governor said his plan will ensure America's agricultural prosperity and support a vibrant rural America in contrast to an Obama record of a stalled trade agenda, onerous government regulations, and higher taxes and energy costs.
"I commit this to you, when I become president, I will do everything in my power to strengthen the family farm," he said.
However, Obama's campaign responded to Romney's speech by accusing the GOP candidate of conveying "a series of falsehoods" about the president's plans for rural America while failing to detail specific plans of his own. Democrats provided a side-by-side comparison of the two candidates' positions on taxes, regulation, trade and energy, as well as the president's effort in trying to get Congress to pass a new farm bill that stalled in the GOP-led House.
"Mitt Romney's remarks today show how completely out of touch he is with the needs of farmers and America's rural communities," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in a statement issued by the Obama campaign. "Sixteen million Americans have jobs that depend on agriculture, and when they looked to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for leadership on the Farm Bill, they were nowhere to be found.
According to a Romney campaign "white paper" on agricultural policy, the GOP candidate believes supporting rural communities requires much more than just a good farm bill. A comprehensive approach includes a fair tax code, a rational regulatory environment, access to markets worldwide, and "an embrace" of U.S. domestic energy resources.
Romney supports permanent elimination of the estate tax, opposes tax increases, and favors fundamental tax reform that lowers rates and supports growth, according to the Romney plan. He also will actively seek trade promotion authority and aggressively pursue new agreements that open access for American goods to markets abroad, according to the Romney plan.
"He's planning on raising the death tax pretty significantly," Romney told the rally. "My own view is we ought to kill the death tax. You paid for that farm once. You shouldn't have to pay for it again."
During Romney's midday campaign event, the MoveOn.org nonprofit liberal public policy advocacy group chartered an airplane with a banner reading "Crack down on Wall St., not Sesame St." to fly over the site of the Romney campaign rally. The banner was intended to hold Romney "accountable for his pledge to cut funding for PBS, despite his proclamation of love for Sesame Street's character Big Bird during the first presidential debate," according to a MoveOn.org press release.