I blogged about the arrogance of some members of Congress during last week’s farm debate in the House.
Let me add to Sallie’s observations on the House farm bill battle.
I watched the action on CSPAN over the pro-reform Kind/Flake amendment and was really struck by the arrogance of the anti-reform members. They repeatedly said essentially: “How dare members like Flake criticize the hard work of the Agriculture Committee — he’s not on the committee, he’s not a farmer, and so what does he know about farming!”
You often need a crisis, real or imagined, to get major policy changes enacted. There are two looming challenges in our backwards and bureaucratic air traffic control system that might nudge Congress toward reform. The first is that the government system is having a hard time keeping up with the continued growth in air travel.
The second, as Government Executive magazine reports today, is that a large group of controllers are nearing retirement and the government might have a hard time finding replacements.
These challenges add to the woes of the Federal Aviation Administration, which has mismanaged the air traffic control (ATC) system for decades. The FAA has struggled to modernize ATC technology in order to improve safety and expand capacity. Its upgrade projects are often behind schedule and far over budget, according to the Government Accountability Office. (Discussed in here).
Privatization of U.S. air traffic control is long overdue. During the past 15 years, more than a dozen countries have partly or fully privatized their ATC, and provide some good models for U.S. reforms.
My toddlers have recently been having fun with the phrase “liar, liar, pants on fire.” I’d like to set them loose on the farm bill debate in Congress.
In Washington, no word is more overused and abused than “reform.” But a Washington Post story today shows the abuse taken to new heights:
Farm bloc lawmakers yesterday offered the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry $1.8 billion in new federal grants over the next five years as part of a farm bill that would leave in place far larger subsidies for grain, cotton and dairy producers.
The concessions were part of a balancing act by House Democrats to craft a bill that will satisfy politically powerful farm interests while also bearing a Democratic imprint of reform. The House Agriculture Committee was set to vote on the legislation late last night…
Spitzer was going after retailers of milk for “price gouging,” or charging prices that were “excessive.”
Talk about regulatory chutzpah. The federal government runs a milk cartel system, called “marketing orders,” which has the direct goal of raising prices. A federal price support program and import barriers are designed to raise milk prices. It has been federal policy for 70 years to screw milk consumers for the benefit of milk producers.
And the government of New York is going after retailers for overcharging?
As annual spending bills wind their way through Congress this year, there are ongoing battles over earmarked funding for members’ pet projects.
To get a sense of what the battle is about, check out this newly released list of earmarks in the House Interior appropriations bill.
People scour such lists looking for embarrassing bridges to nowhere in Alaska and indoor rainforests in Iowa.
As Congress considers a new farm bill in coming weeks, Cato has launched a web resource, Downsizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which offers a menu of cuts to shrink the department’s $89 billion budget by 90 percent.
A nice complement to the Cato pages is an updated farm subsidy database from the Environmental Working Group.