The Senate passed a nearly $1 trillion farm bill last week that would maintain the farming industry’s dependency on taxpayers and keep food stamp spending at permanently elevated levels. Although the bill’s supporters claim that it amounts to major “reform,” the reality is that it’s just bipartisan big government business-as-usual.
The Senate’s “vote-a-rama” on amendments to the farm bill continued yesterday. Thus far, almost all of the amendments that would have cut spending have failed. One failed amendment in particular is worth highlighting because it demonstrates the blatant disregard for taxpayers that exists in the Senate.
Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal that substantially increases the prospects for passage of a massive farm bill in the Senate. The Senate will vote on 73 amendments and then vote on passage. According to Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the deal “is really an example of the Senate coming together to agree to get things done.”
Pundits claim that partisanship is creating gridlock in Washington. But in the Senate, the two parties still know how to make bipartisan deals on big government subsidy legislation. That chamber may move ahead with a massive agriculture bill that would spend almost $1 trillion over the next decade. Supporters are calling it a “reform” bill because it would trim a measly two percent from projected spending over the period.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced three amendments to the recently passed Energy & Water appropriations bill that would have eliminated a slew of business subsidies at the Department of Energy. Unfortunately, House Republicans once again teamed up with their Democratic colleagues to keep the corporate welfare spigot flowing.
My colleague Chris Edwards testified before the House Budget Committee this morning on “Removing the Barriers to Free Enterprise and Economic Growth.” The first half of Chris’s testimony focused on the problems with corporate welfare spending, which costs taxpayers almost $100 billion annually and is the topic of my forthcoming study.
Policymakers have been kicking the fiscal policy can down the road for years. That can is going to reappear shortly after the November elections when policymakers will be forced to confront scheduled tax increases, mandated spending cuts, and – once again – the debt ceiling. (I’m assuming, quite confidently, that nothing gets resolved before the elections.) The combination of events is being called the “fiscal cliff” as the failure to resolve these issues would cause the economy to go back into recession in 2013 according to conventional economic forecasters.
The Hill reports that “The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a socially and economically disadvantaged minority group that is eligible for special business assistance” through its Minority Business Development Agency. I would argue that the federal government should not favor people of one particular ethnic backgrounds over others. However, I think the bigger issue here is that a Commerce determination in the affirmative would be yet another step in the direction of greater government dependency.
The Obama campaign is trying to hang so-called “vulture” capitalism around Mitt Romney’s neck, but as two excellent opinion pieces explain, it’s the administration’s crony capitalism that’s the really disturbing story.