What if you wanted to sell me something for $40, but I only offered you $4?
Obviously you wouldn’t take that offer, but would you “compromise” and settle for $8?
It’s not very likely, especially if you knew your product could command $40.
Yet, that’s the type of “compromise” the House and Senate just made on food stamp cuts in the so-called farm-bill — but on a much larger scale.
The House wanted $40 billion in food stamp cuts. The Senate wanted $4 billion. The “compromise” they reached was an $8 billion cut.
For nearly two years, conservatives have been calling for the separation of the food stamp program from the farm bill so that both could be adequately reformed, to better serve consumers and taxpayers.
Now it appears the House will side with the status quo and let the explosion of food stamp and agriculture spending continue:
A coalition spanning grocer Kroger Co. (KR:US) to Iowa soybean growers is on the verge of victory with a deal on a five-year agriculture bill in a Congress that can’t seem to agree on much of anything.
The accord, which lawmakers estimate will save $23 billion over 10 years, reflects the clout of urban-rural allies who hung together even when the House of Representatives split them apart, as well as lots of lobbying money. In all, groups pressing for the bill spent more than $100 million in the first nine months of last year.
Should the poor and consumers have to pay more for milk just to line the pockets of wealthy farmers who don’t need the help? Of course they shouldn’t.
Vince Smith, the agricultural policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor at the University of Montana and Brad Wassink, a domestic policy researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, explain:
After a year and a half of haggling over the new farm bill, dairy policy appears to be the final sticking point. It’s a microcosm of the broader farm subsidy discussion that pits the welfare of consumers, taxpayers, and the poor against the interests of agribusiness and farm lobbies.
At issue is a dairy scheme advocated by Rep. Peterson (D-Minn.) and Sen. Leahy (D-Vt.). The proposal illustrates all that is wrong with farm bill politics and policy: to guarantee the earnings of dairies (with outsized benefits to small-scale and increasingly inefficient farms in Minnesota and Vermont), Peterson’s program would raise the price of milk and dairy products for everyone.
Only in the log-rolling world of Washington farm bill politics would such a program make sense. For the poor, the unemployed, taxpayers and consumers, it does not.
Taking Milk from Babies: The Shocking New Farm Bill Strategy
Christmas may have been last month, but the House of Representatives just jammed through a $1.111 trillion appropriations bill and it looks as if it’s preparing to pass another trillion-dollar bill in the coming weeks in the form of the much-maligned food stamp and farm welfare bill. The two bills have much more in common than their trillion-dollar price tag, though. They are intimately connected by an obscure program known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
Although most Americans have never heard of PILT, it provides payments to counties that are suffocated by the massive amounts of federal land within their borders. Because the Federal estate is so huge and predominately in the western states, counties there are hamstrung in their ability to generate taxes and provide for basic services like firefighting and emergency medical services.
Conservatives and liberals agree that it is good to help those most in need to put food on their table. There is disagreement, however, with regard to how much the federal government should spend on food stamps and whether or not there is any fraud, waste, and abuse in the program. Does the steep rise in food stamp participation indicate a growing entitlement culture? Liberals and conservatives answer that question differently, too. At issue currently is a reported $9 billion dollar cut — over the next decade — to the federal food stamp program that cost roughly $80 billion in 2013 alone. The cuts would be part of a farm bill agreement.