Farm Bill and the Art of ‘Negotiation’
The implosion of the House food stamp and farm bill on the floor was an unprecedented victory for conservatives and taxpayers alike. Nevertheless, some are lamenting the bill’s defeat as a sign that Congress has lost its ability to “negotiate.” As recounted in the National Journal:
“Everybody was going to have a part” of the bill, Combest recalled. “You’ve got the parameters that are established and you end up somewhere in the center.”
The farm bill, Daschle added, was classic legislative construction: The bill was crafted to give members in each state the buy-in they needed to vote for the final product. “If their state has no stake in the bill, the only way you get them is by getting them invested in the bill,” Daschle said. “You’ve got to figure out a way to make this relevant to them.”
In other words, the farm bill has always been about buying people off and getting them to implement bad policy. If Congress has indeed lost its ability to do that, this should be welcome news to just about everyone.
Sadly, we know this is not the case.
The real story here is how effective conservative grassroots have been at changing how Washington works. Gone are the days when Republicans and Democrats could operate freely behind closed doors, cut deals, award special carve outs, and buy off support to push massive pieces of legislation through at the expense of the American taxpayer.
The food stamp and farm bill’s defeat in the House signals that business as usual in Washington is coming to an end. With lawmakers back in their districts for the next five weeks, now is a good time of reminding them as much.