Senator Rand Paul heads to Iowa today for the start of what amounts to a presidential exploratory tour, one that’s bucking some party orthodoxy as he mulls a 2016 bid and seeks to expand his base beyond the limited-government Tea Party movement.
Of special interest to Iowans, Paul as a Senate candidate in 2010 expressed suspicion about federal farm subsidies received by virtually every farmer in Iowa. He now favors “means testing” for such assistance, he said in an interview.
At $23.6 billion, Iowa ranked second among states for total farm subsidy payments collected from 1995 through 2011, according to the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, a conservation-advocacy organization that tracks subsidies. The state is the biggest U.S. producer of corn and soybeans.
“I think there are people that know we are in such bad shape that we ought to see beyond parochial or personal or special interests,” he said. “I think the farm program is evolving toward fewer payments towards farmers.”