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Who stands against the Farm Bill’s excesses? Maybe congressional Republicans?
MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell, who refers to himself as a socialist, has been blasting GOP members of the House and Senate rightly for some time now for protecting what O'Donnell calls "agricultural socialism."
Like me, it’s the bipartisan nature of farm subsidies that most sickens O’Donnell.
“No socialist program gets more unbridled bipartisan support than agriculture socialism, our single worst and stupid and most inefficient form of socialism in this country,” he said earlier this week.
Keep Food Legal, the nonpartisan nonprofit I lead, is currently taking a hard look at the bipartisan politics behind the Farm Bill for a forthcoming report we anticipate releasing later this year.
As I noted in an earlier column, one of several I’ve written on the Farm Bill, our early research indicates that GOP-dominated states and GOP districts in Democratic-dominated states appear to “grab an outsized share of subsidies, and that this share represents a huge overall percentage of USDA subsidy payments.”
Our report, tentatively titled Compromising the Farm: The Politics of Farm Subsidies, will include in its findings the fact that an overwhelming majority of congressional districts receiving direct farm payment subsidies in recent years were represented by GOP congressman.
For example, our data indicate that 75 percent of the 30 most subsidized congressional districts in 2012 were led by GOP representatives.
That makes the prospects for the GOP-led House to put the brakes on the abominable farm subsidies evident in this Farm Bill sometime later this month more crucial—and less likely.
Whether or not farm subsidies are a socialist program, there’s no mistaking that they’re simply bad bipartisan policy.
That’s not to say that crop insurance is a bad idea. It’s not. Buying crop insurance is actually a good idea for many farmers. But forcing taxpayers to subsidize farmers’ risk in a spirit of bipartisanship is not.