Out-flanked on the right by Debbie Stabenow?
Having long been appalled by America’s Soviet-style system of agriculture, I continue to doubt the Republican Party’s seriousness regarding reform, i.e., budget cutting, of this improvident system of rent-seeking by one of the wealthier sectors of the economy.
Now, I fear, Republicans may be upstaged and out-flanked by the Democrats. If this happens more power to the party of Jefferson and Jackson and shame on the party of Lincoln.
Senate Democrats are seriously considering cutting farm subsidies as part of a forlorn attempt to put together a “balanced” substitute for the straight-out cuts to discretionary spending, share and share alike, between domestic and defense spending.
I refer, of course, to the dreaded “sequestration” soon upon us. I have previously written on how I have learned to love the sequestration. Given the intransigence of the Senate and White House on any rationale cuts of domestic spending (except for defense) or restructuring of entitlements, there appears to be no other way to rein in Washington’s mad rush to national ruin. As an old friend of mine said, sometimes you need to hit a donkey over the head with a 2 x 4.
Notwithstanding my embrace of the blunt instrument of sequestration, I certainly appreciate that, in a more rational world, we should set priorities and cut those programs that are useless, unjust, and of low priority relative to higher ones such as protecting international shipping lanes with a robust naval force. The House GOP caucus has, in fact, clearly stated their hope of doing so on a bipartisan basis only to be rebuffed with more calls by the President for tax revenue.
Now it seems that the Senate Democrats are looking to cut direct subsidies to farmers as an offset in sequester bargaining as reported last week by David Rogers in Politico. The idea would be to cut the agriculture subsidies and restore other spending that would otherwise suffer from the impending across-the-board sequestration cuts commencing on March 1. Unfortunately, they also want a 50-50 blend of cuts and taxes. But they are onto something regarding the reduction or elimination of some subsidies for agriculture.
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), a liberal stalwart and long-time advocate for labor, has indicated her desire to cut, in Rogers’s words, “an outdated system of direct cash payments to [agricultural] producers that still costs taxpayers close to $5 billion a year and has long been a target for reformers.”
New estimates released last week by the Congressional Budget Office “peg the 2013 cost at $4.96 billion and $54.4 billion through 2023,” writes Rogers.
“I would prefer obviously to do it in the context of the farm bill but I cannot defend direct payments,” says Senator Stabenow. Regarding the ultimate amount of budget cuts the Senate majority finally settles upon, she stated that “Whatever is done has to be agriculture’s contribution to deficit reduction.”
She has been promised credit for any savings when she begins another attempt at a mark-up of a new Farm Bill in late March or April post-sequestration.
Stabenow would prefer to have dealt with direct cash payments in the reauthorization of the new Farm Bill, over which her committee has jurisdiction. However, debate over the reauthorization bill was discontinued when Republicans blocked floor debate and went with a one-year extension of the status quo in January that continued the crop payments for the time being.
Senator Stabenow savaged the GOP, claiming the partial farm bill extension, as part of the fiscal cliff deal, was “clearly” a means of protecting big government subsidies, as reported by Amanda Peterka, an E&E reporter, in Greenwire.
According to Peterka direct payments are paid to farmers regardless of how many acres are actually planted in a given year.
On C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” series, the Chairwoman went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for leaving the ag subsidies in place while cutting energy, conservation, and disaster programs for farmers and ranchers.
“They say they want more cuts, but when it comes to wealthy farmers that have high prices and don’t need subsidies, they seem very willing to jeopardize the rest of agriculture in order to be able to protect those subsidies,” said Stabenow. “That’s wrong in my book.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?