I’ve been a bit busy on Facebook regarding the 2013 Farm Bill, but I was lax about posting on it. Time to fix that – and thanks to Veronique De Rugy for bringing this up again in The Corner:
A few weeks ago, I suggested that splitting the farm bill into two pieces would have the benefits of breaking the alliance between the pro-farm and food-stamp spending lobbies in the hopes that it would help get rid of farm subsidies.
I thought that splitting the bill into two parts would finally put farm subsidies on the path to elimination where they belong. Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, Republicans are as eager as ever to continue to support a “ag-only bill” that includes indefensible subsidies to farmers, such as sugar-producer programs, and creates new income-entitlement programs, such as the shallow-loss program.
You and me both, Veronique.
As one can see here in the vote on the matter, House Republicans rammed this nonsense through all by themselves. Not a single Democrat supported it. To be fair, had the food stamps been included in the bill at funding levels the Democrats preferred, they would have voted aye, but that doesn’t excuse the Republicans…at all.
Rugy, citing Taxpayers for Common Sense, explains why:
It gets worse, as Taxpayers For Commonsense explains:
“Leadership argued this was the same portions of the amended bill that failed last month. Except it wasn’t. Yes, they repealed archaic and wasteful permanent law that dated back to 1949. Good. But under the cover of darkness, they had conveniently deleted nearly all the lines that would ‘sunset’ these new changes in 2018. So they not only created new income guarantee entitlements, revived Moscow-on-the-Potomac government-set target prices, loaded up with new special interest carve-outs, and expanded already overly generous crop insurance subsidies, they made these market distorting subsidies the new ‘permanent law.’ Really, really bad. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) wanted to lock in record farm income and these extravagant subsidies in perpetuity without any trigger to regularly review them. It’s waste on auto-pilot.”
I would argue that with the “Moscow-on-the-Potomac government-set target prices,” things are even worse than they seem. Stuff like this – which usually includes paying folks not to farm, the aforementioned price floors, and the sickening ethanol subsidies – actually make food prices higher for hundreds of millions of Americans. We still don’t know how much our food-stamp program addresses genuine need, as opposed to artificial hardship created by government-driven food inflation. If the House Republicans have their way, we’ll never know.
What we can be sure of is this (from Rugy again, emphasis added)…
To add insult to injury, this move just feeds into the portrait Democrats like to paint of Republican lawmakers: They will support any policies that favor the rich – even if they mean more government spending – and like to oppose policies that would benefit lower-income Americans. In this case, there is some truth to that. Republicans are showing that, while some of them weren’t willing to vote for the farm bill as long as it included food stamps, they will support the outrageous redistribution of income to higher-income Americans when it benefits wealthy farmers.
What kind of message does this send to voters in suburban and urban areas?
Answer: Complete, unadulterated, and utter contempt.
This is Pitchfork Corporatism at its unrepentant worst – and it’s a sign that the Republicans in Congress simply don’t get it. They have essentially told non-farm voters, “Drop Dead.”