Rick Perry And Sen. Grassley Promote Bizarre Myth About Non-Existent Tractor Regulation

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) — who kicked off his campaigning for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination by saying Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s actions to boost the economy are “almost treasonous” — is spending a lot of his time criticizing federal regulations for supposedly stifling job creation. In Iowa this week, he related a story told to him by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) about tractor regulations forcing farmers to jump through hoops:

He then proceeded to cite what he termed an “obscene, crazy” regulation. “If you are a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road, you’re going to have to have a commercial driver’s license. Now how idiotic is that?”

Perry said he had talked on Sunday night with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa at a GOP dinner in Waterloo. Perry told Grassley he had heard in the previous two days that the federal government was going to put such a regulation in place.

“Your own United States senator, sitting there at the table, said, ‘That’s right.’ And I said, ‘What were they thinking, senator?’ And he said, ‘They weren’t.’ So that is the issue at hand here,” Perry said.

Watch it:

The only problem is this regulation simply doesn’t exist. “We are absolutely not requiring farmers” to obtain commercial licenses, said U.S. Department Of Transportation spokeswoman Candice Tolliver. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum spent some time getting to the bottom of this urban legend:

The [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] has long had rules that defined most grain haulage as interstate commerce and designated farmers hauling shared crops as commercial operators. This was never a big deal because they had never enforced those rules and neither had anyone else. But then Illinois decided to start enforcing the letter of the law and Illinois farmers were unhappy. So now FMCSA is asking whether these regulations ever made sense in the first place. […] Far from trying to implement a barrage of regulations on our nation’s farmers, FMCSA is apparently trying to stop state officials from implementing a barrage of regulations on our nation’s farmers.

Perry is either ignorant of the issue at stake here or is simply lying to score an anti-government political point. Grassley, in a newsletter issued on Friday, wrote that “common sense had appeared to prevail in the matter of proposed agricultural transportation regulations.”