The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently asked each of the presidential candidates to respond to a series of questions about agricultural policy issues. The questions covered farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations, and transportation and infrastructure. The candidates’ responses (full text here) were not exactly models of courageous and principled policymaking.
Republicans are jumping on the news that participation in the food stamps program hit a new record of 46.7 million individuals in June (about one in seven Americans). In a sluggish economy, an increase in food stamps participation is to be expected. Thus, it’s fair to hold up the increase in food stamps usage as being emblematic of the Obama administration’s failed economic policies. In addition, the president’s 2009 “stimulus” bill increased benefits and eligibility.
Every five years or so, members of Congress from rural areas team up to push through a costly extension of farm programs. They are at it again this year. The Senate recently passed legislation to keep billions of dollars in subsidies flowing to farm businesses, and the House just passed a similarly bloated bill out of committee.
The Congressional Budget Office’s score of the farm bill passed in the Senate estimates that it would save $23 billion (versus the current baseline) over ten years. It’s score of the bill that came out of the House Agriculture Committee estimates savings of $35 billion. However, the previous three farm bills ended up costing more than the CBO originally estimated:
In the latest example of the so-called “Tea Party Class” of House Republicans not living up to the hype, GOP freshmen on the House Agriculture Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve a bloated $957 billion farm subsidy/welfare bill.
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.