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.
Newt Gingrich had fun calling President Obama the “food stamp president,” but many Republicans are just as responsible for the exploding costs of this welfare state program.
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.”