They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
On Monday night, he suggested that President Obama, as a senator, may have been prejudiced to help the black farmers.
"Figure this out, Madame Speaker: We have a very, very urban Senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he's going to run for president, and what does he do?" King said. "He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim."
He then said the claims -- which stem from discrimination against black farmers in the 1980s and 1990s -- are "slavery reparations."
"We've got to stand up at some point and say, 'We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress,'" he said. "That war's been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially. And there's no reparations for the blood that paid for the sin of slavery. No one's filing that claim.
The Pigford claimants, he said, "They're just filing a claim because they think they can get away with it." Standing up against the settlements, while unpopular, he said, is "a matter of justice and equity."
King's anti-Pigford cohort, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), has also spoken out. She told the House that Pigford is "pure and complete fraud" and would be a "perfect" place to start cutting the federal budget.
Right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart, who famously got USDA appointee and Pigford claimant Shirley Sherrod fired from her job earlier this year after posting a highly-edited video, has joined the fray, criticizing the settlement because it's funded, in part, from a surplus in the Women Infants Children food stamp program.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack insisted to reporters yesterday that no one will see a WIC benefits cut because of the settlement, saying there's been a "slight decrease" in the number of people receiving benefits and, therefore, a surplus.
Late update: A USDA spokesman reached out to counter King's claims, saying, "These accusations are nothing more than an attempt to derail an effort to provide long-overdue compensation to thousands of farmers who were discriminated against over several decades."
"Current census numbers on black farmers are not the proper guide for the number of claimants, and certainly no basis for allegations of fraud. Out of the 15,000 claims processed under Pigford I, the FBI determined that only 3 claims were fraudulent, and this Administration is committed to ensuring that the new claims process has integrity and provides justice to those who have suffered discrimination."