Hold On To Your Wallets: Farm Bill Incoming!
Mark up week for the $1 trillion food stamp and farm bill has finally arrived and with it the ominous prospect of self-styled conservatives and Republicans rubberstamping President Obama’s big-government agenda. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released the draft text of their respective bills last week and the contempt for the American taxpayer could not be more evident.
The bills look remarkably similar to last year’s legislation: chock full of special interest handouts, market-distorting subsidies, taxpayer-funded shallow loss crop insurance, and of course hundreds of billions of dollars in food stamps. Whether it’s the consumer-crushing sugar program or a dairy program with a Soviet-style flare, the farm bill is an American taxpayer’s worst nightmare.
The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), is already putting on his best “don’t look behind the curtain” routine when it comes to the enormity of his proposed bill. He would have us believe that the Ag Committee really scraped the bottom of the barrel to save money this go around!
Instead of the $35 billion in “savings” from last year’s proposed bill, Rep. Lucas was able to stretch things out to find $38 billion for this year’s mark up. “I was compelled to match his [President Obama] number. I’m saving $38 billion from the farm bill process,” Lucas said.
Indeed. The problem of course is that this bill doesn’t save much of anything considering the cost is some 60% higher than the original estimate for the 2008 farm bill. And there’s also that slight little hiccup courtesy of CBO showing the $35 billion in “savings” from last year’s proposed bill was actually more like $26 billion.
Nothing to see here, folks, move along!
As Heritage’s Diane Katz repeatedly pointed out last year, finding savings and making reforms in America’s agriculture policy should be low-hanging fruit for lawmakers. The farm subsidies being financed by taxpayers are Depression-era relics that can no longer be justified. This is especially true considering net farm income has hit record highs for the past couple of years. Furthermore, this was in spite of the severe drought that swept across the heartland last year—a drought largely recognized as one of the worst ones in a century.
As the Senate prepares to mark up its bill tomorrow and the House moves to do so on Wednesday, it’s imperative that Americans use this legislation as a litmus test for their representatives. Are Members of Congress serious about cutting spending and changing business as usual in Washington?
We’ll find out soon. We’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t end well for either our freedom or our wallets, which is why we must remain ever vigilant.