Farm Bill on the Horizon
Will wonders never cease? For the first time in four years, the United States Senate voted on and passed a budget. This suggests that Congress is finally attempting to meet their constitutional obligations. Unfortunately, the Senate budget is one that the American people aren’t likely to appreciate with nearly $1.5 trillion in tax increases and some $691 billion in spending increases.
As Washington continues to tax and spend America into oblivion, there are indications that both the House and Senate Agriculture committees are looking to mark up a new five year farm bill. Last year, conservatives were successful in stopping the $1 trillion food and farm welfare bill from even hitting the floor, but Speaker Boehner recently told the Ohio Farm Bureau that “We are going to do a farm bill this year. And I expect the Senate will do a farm bill as well.”
Conservatives should take this statement as a shot across the bow. As the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz argued last year, farm policy is ripe for reform. According to the USDA, net farm income adjusted for inflation is expected to be the highest since 1973. This, as taxpayers are forced to subsidize these record farm profits through market-distorting programs that increase prices for consumers.
With nearly eighty percent of the $1 trillion farm bill consisting of food stamps—a program which once again hit a new record high for recipients just last week—passing such legislation would be a betrayal of the very principles that conservative politicians claim to espouse.
Last year, both Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) argued that their respective bills accounted for $35 billion and $23 billion in respective “savings.” Aside from the fact that passage of legislation that would have spent 60% more than the 2008 farm bill hardly accounts for “savings,” the CBO recently released a report suggesting that the House and Senate numbers were drastically off-target—like $10 billion off-target.
This report illustrates the fuzzy math all too common for Washington politicians. And it justifies the skepticism that Americans have for their elected representatives. Conservative lawmakers interested in limiting the size of government and cutting spending will have a hard time explaining a vote in support of any food and farm welfare bill.
This was the case in 2012 and it remains the case in 2013.