At a press conference in Nashville, TN today, presidential candidate John Edwards is set to unveil his plan to help rural America rebound and recover from decades of decline. “Rural America has been ignored for too long,” said Edwards. “Across America, too many small towns have turned into ghost towns. We need to help small towns and rural communities create and keep new businesses and good jobs, and we need a President who will make sure all our communities have good schools, good health care and the support systems they need. As President, I will make sure rural America is never left behind.”

The Edwards campaign points out that today a rural family earns 27% less than other families in the U.S. The Edwards campaign also talks about how family farms and rural manufacturing are hurting, but I think it is much worse than that. The family farm has almost become an American myth, and rural manufacturing has been devastated by outsourcing. To address these issues, Edwards had developed a plan that he calls the Rural Recovery Act. There are six parts to Edwards’ plan, but I’ll only discuss the three major parts here. Edwards would create what he termed a, “Rural Economic Advancement Challenge (REACH) Fund to bring capital and management expertise to small town America.”

Secondly, Edwards would use America’s need to create more renewable energy sources to boost rural economies. Edwards would establish, “the New Energy Economy Fund to jumpstart renewable energies. Edwards will create new markets for ethanol, invest in renewable energy research, support locally owned biorefineries and require 25 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025.” Third, Edwards would enforce antitrust laws on corporate farming. He would cap government subsidies to corporate farmers, support the packer ban, and declare a national moratorium on new and expanding hog lagoons. The other parts of his plan involve better pay for rural teachers, Medicare and Medicaid reform, and more money for law enforcement to deal with the rural meth problem.

I grew up in a rural area, and I still live in a rural America. I can tell you that I am watching rural America die a little more each year. Of course Edwards is talking about rural America, because he is running for president and wants their votes, but it is nice to see a presidential candidate talk about an area of the country that has become a collective national blind spot. Whether the Edwards plan would work or not, it would still be nice to see a president try for the first time in 40 years to help rural America deal with their problems. The rural part of this country really has become the forgotten America.

Press release on Edwards’ Rural Recovery Act

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse  blog radio 

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