Friday, December 3, 2010


H. R. 4783, now called the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, has been cleared to be sent to the President for his signature. When introduced it was called a bill "To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Chile, and to extend the period from which such contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti may be accelerated." When it passed the Senate its new moniker was "Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010 Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010."

The Congressional Budget Office estimate on H.R. 4783 predicts that in the decade from 2011 through 2020 this bill will reduce the overall deficit by one million dollars.  The Congressional Budget office  Report on this bill is available  at

Upon passage of this bill Iowa's Republican Representative Steve King took to the floor during special speeches apparently to create sound bites for the rabid rightwing Republican propaganda machine. That would be conservative crank talk radio and FOX Fantasy.

Perusing the cable lineup I chanced upon Mr. King's rant. It was a cerebral moment of cognitive disconnect. Mr. King was foaming at the mouth over the provisions of law which expanded the opportunity for filing claims in the case originally styled Pigford v. Glickman.

Pigford was a case about racial discrimination by the USDA. in refusing to provide loans to black farmers when the Department of Agriculture provided those same kinds of loans to similarly situated white farmers.

Mr. King has clearly forgotten the facts about the bill for which he voted. The provision to expand the filing deadline for Pigford claimants was not, as King misrepresents, the result of a sneaky Bill or Amendment introduced by then Senator Obama, by himself.  You could reasonably guess that King was inferring that the black Senator from Illinois was inserting a black farmer boondoggle provision into the law.  That is an unfortunate but reasonable thing to say about King's remarks.

The provision of law to which King refers is §14012 of H.R. 6124, which became Public Law 110-246. That provision is summarized by the Congressional Research Service as "(Sec. 14012) States that: (1) any Pigford (discrimination) claimant who has not previously obtained a determination on the merits of a Pigford claim may obtain that determination in a civil action brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia filed within two years after the date of enactment of this Act; (2) the total amount of payments and debt relief is $100 million; and (3) the intent of Congress is to have this section liberally construed."

King's distortions suggest that the Obama Administration has caved in on the late filings of the Pigford II claims.  King ignores the facts.  First, late claims were not permitted on the basis of lack of notice as King suggests. Second, the late filers were required to demonstrate exigent circumstances which prevented their prior timely filing. Being displaced by a hurricane, for example, would qualify. Third, the numbers Mr. King, the numbers bring down your rant. Of the approximately 73,800 late filing Pigford II claims only 2,116 were permitted to go forward.

Back to King's claim about Obama introducing the Pigford II claims bill. Well, Steve is half right, but that is only because he deals in half truths. That bill was introduced by Iowa's Republican Senator Grassley, for himself, Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden, and Mr. Kennedy. It was called the Pigford Claims Remedy Act of 2007. In the House identical legislation was introduced by Democratic Representative Robert C. Scott of Virginia and Republican Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio. So it wasn't just Mr. Obama who was singularly pushing a vague benefit towards willy-nilly black farmer claimants under Pigford II, as King would lead us to wrongly believe.

Why did all the Representative and Senators, including Barack Obama introduce the Pigford II claims bills?  You have to go back to the Judge hearing the Pigford cases.  That's Judge Paul L. Friedman who sits on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Judge Friedman expressed suprise and disappointment that the USDA was not including, in a consent decree, provisions that in the future the USDA would exert best efforts to ensure compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination. The Congressional Research Service has published a history of the Pigford case settelements.  You can read it for yourself at

The Black Farmers Association was paying attention to what Judge Friedman was saying and filed a $20.5 Billion Class Action lawsuit in September of 2004.  That suit was later dismissed for lack of standing.

On May 5, 2009 Iowa's Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and North Carolina's Democratic Senator Kay Hagan introduced S. 515. a bill to allow access to an unlimited fund at the Treasury to pay successful Pigford II claims.  A related bill, H.R. 899 was filed in the house by Alabama's Democratic Representative Arthur Davis.  Hawaii's Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye introduced Senate Amendment 3407 to H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2009.  That Amendment made the appropriation of $1.15 billion to settle the Pigford case.  As much as that is, it is a drop in the bucket to the $20.5 billion the class action suit sought.  H.R. 4213 became Public Law 111-205,

Now remember, the Congressional Budget Office says this bill will actually drive down direct spending by $1 million over the next decade.  It isn't all that dramatic but prooves the point that you sometimes have to spend a little to save a little.

King rambled on, ignoring the facts, about Obama's connection in making the $100 million appropriated to settle Pigford claims growing into this huge Pigford II settlement.  King should have been speaking to or about Grassley.  But then Grassley would have probably told him that the Pigford II claims ended up costing less than the class action lawsuit that eventually would have found proper parties with standing. 

Steve King's mind is a mysterious place where his imagination mixes with vitriol and facts are relegated to select recognition and use.  There should be a subset of abnormal psychology dedicated to the political propagandist and Steve King should be a case study.  We could learn about demagoguery from an in depth study of Steve King's mind.

Those Pigford II claims bills were engrafted into the Farm Bill. Steve King is from Iowa and he knows about these farm bills. That brings us back to Public Law 110-246, which was introduced into the House by Democratic Representative Collin Peterson from Minnesota as the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Peterson's bill went on to become the 2008 Farm Bill,

Steve King knows about the 2008 Farm Bill, Public Law 110-246. King cast his vote to pass the bill in the House on May 22, 2008 on roll call 353. That vote required a ⅔ majority and got in a margin of 306-110. The bill went on to the Senate where it was passed without Amendment on Record Vote 144.

The 2008 Farm Bill went to the White House where President George W. Bush gave it his VETO. You can read President Bush's Veto Message at

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 came back to Congress where Steve King voted to successfully override President Bush's veto. That was on June 18, 2008 during roll call 417. The Senate vote to override Bush's veto took place on the same day during Record Vote 151.

Steve King rants against the very law for which he voted, which the President of his political party vetoed, and which he, Steve King, voted to override. Steve King boils over at the costs of these Pigford II settlements, for which he voted, as being too costly.  That's ironic.  President George W. Bush vetoed the 2008 Farm Bill because many of its provisions were too costly. Then King voted to spend the money anyway! 

Like I said, it was a cerebral moment of cognitive disconnect.

1 comment:

  1. Very... Nicee... Blog.. I really appreciate it... Thanks..:-)