Today we have yet another example of Republicans and Democrats teaming up to protect a special interest at the public’s expense. A few hours ago the Senate voted 50-46 to kill an amendment from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would have phased out subsidies and supports for the sugar industry.
Farmer-friendly members of Congress are such a target-rich environment for ridicule when it comes to poor agriculture policy that it would be a full-time job just blogging about their utterances. So I try to spare you, most of the time. (You’re welcome.) But occasionally a quote passes my desk that is so ridiculous that I just have to share.
Today’s example of how the federal government has become too darn big is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Marketing Grant program. This (relatively) little slice of corporate welfare will hand out approximately $56 million in taxpayer dollars this year to “producers of agricultural commodities” who can use the money “for planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products.”
That’s the message I came away with after reading an online article from a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter about a decision by the state of Pennsylvania to limit eligibility for food stamps. The article is a perfect example of the difficulty advocates for limited government face in communicating their ideas through the mainstream press.
Politico yesterday reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is upset. According to him, the USDA just don’t get no respect:
There has been much written recently about the so-called shallow loss proposals to provide subsidies for farms in cases when farm revenues fall slightly below the record high levels of the past few years.
The Drudge Report’s headlining of a Heritage Foundation story titled “Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax” has created quite a stir. In fact, it is being reported that the administration is now going to delay its implementation due to the outcry. Conservatives and Republicans are particularly incensed. However, it appears that they might want to rethink their Obama-as-Grinch narrative.
An amendment to a Senate appropriations bill introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have reduced funding for rural development subsidies at the Department of Agriculture by $1 billion was easily voted down today. Only 13 Republicans voted to cut the program. Thirty-two Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to spare it, including minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), ranking budget committee member Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and tea party favorite Marco Rubio (R-FL).