Why the Democrats Suck (Farm Bill Folly Edition)

Didn't the Democrats say they were going to be fiscally responsible when they took over Congress?

The House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee recently passed its version of the farm bill and there's so much pork in here, you'd think you were in, well a pig slaughterhouse where even the doors, floors, and windows were made of pork and the cafeteria only served pork and even the coffee and the coffee cups themselves were made of pork. And that the folks working there were paid in money not just backed by but actually made from pork. What's especially disappointing regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) playing along is that a bunch of Bay Area activists were pushing for cuts to subsidies for various reasons (most of them no good, but a budget-cutting ally is a budget-cutting ally).

Here's some pork-laden excerpts from a report filed by reason contributing editor Carolyn Lochhead, who works out of the SF Chron's DC bureau:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed off Friday on a five-year farm bill that would keep multibillion-dollar subsidies flowing to cotton, corn and a handful of other crops, deeply disappointing Bay Area food and environmental activists who had hoped that Congress might shift federal farm policy this year to combat obesity, air and water pollution and industrial farming.

Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, hailed as reform a bill that would grant subsidies to farmers earning up to $1 million -- five times more than the cap sought by the Bush administration -- while increasing actual payments to farmers. The bill comes during the most prosperous era American agriculture has seen in decades as crop prices and farm income approach or set record highs....

The bill...would add $1.6 billion for environmental and pest detection programs and research for California's fruit, nut and vegetable crops. It also would add money for farmers' markets and to provide more fresh produce in school lunch programs. Approval of the money is a breakthrough for the state's specialty crop industry, which receives no direct subsidies.

But the bill leaves the big commodity programs intact for cotton, corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and a handful of other crops that have been subsidized since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

Last year, farmers received more than $21 billion in crop subsidies. Average farm incomes are about 20 percent higher than the average U.S. household income.

The committee even threw in an export subsidy for tobacco.

Huzzah for democracy. As one conressman told Lochhead, the battle over the farm bill is just beginning and the version Pelosi has signed off on is unlikely to be that similar to what eventually passes. Expect the final bill coming out of the House to be even more bloated.

More here.

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  • ||

    To demos in Congress,being 'fiscally resposible' means raising,not lowering taxes.Since FDR they have stood for socialism.

  • ||

    Nobody who wants to win an election can figure a way out of the farm subsidy business. They've sold it for years as defending the family farm and now people believe them.

  • ||

    They were elected to get us out of Iraq, not create a reasonable domestic policy. Well, at least that's why I voted for them.

  • ||

    Didn't the Democrats say they were going to be fiscally responsible when they took over Congress?

    HAHAHAHAHAHA
    No they didn't. Did they? No they couldn't have. They didn't really say that did they? OK Nick, you got me.

  • x,y||

    $21 billion / US population (~300 million) = $70 per person.

    Scrap the bill and send us each a check for $70. Tell me that's not a winning position.

  • x,y||

    They were elected to get us out of Iraq, not create a reasonable domestic policy. Well, at least that's why I voted for them.

    1. We're still in Iraq.

    2. They're bilking taxpayers.

    If only we could have seen this coming.

  • ||

    Nick, seriously, tone down the imagery; you're making me hungry.

  • ||

    The Democrats Suck! Somebody just made "Weigal's" list.

    Time for breakfast; mmmmmm, sausage!

  • Russ 2000||

    Since FDR they have stood for socialism.

    And since Nixon, so have the GOP.

    I'm fully expecting an American Gore-like politician-cum-filmmaker to produce a movie entitled "Triumph Of The Will" before I die.

  • SIV||

    It would be interesting to see what would happen to agricultural land values (and the local tax base) if farm subsidies were ended.

    Same goes for ending subsidized insuranc on coastal development.

  • ||

    I'm fully expecting an American Gore-like politician-cum-filmmaker to produce a movie entitled "Triumph Of The Will" before I die.

    I'm sure that Secretary for Truth Michael Moore will be pleased to produce it during the President Tom Cruise administration.

  • ed||

    Didn't the Democrats say they were going to be fiscally responsible when they took over Congress?

    No! Show me the quote! You can't? That's because no Democrat said those exact words!

    or

    It was all a dream. Back to sleep now. That's a good boy.

  • ||

    Didn't some troll say yesterday that farm subsidies were Republican welfare?

  • ||

    They were elected to get us out of Iraq, not create a reasonable domestic policy. Well, at least that's why I voted for them.



    So are you pissed off that there is no chance in hell that they will do anything to get the United States out of Iraq? Have you learned your lesson, or will you continue to vote for them?

  • Sal Paradise||

    Not just some troll, our resident, tenured troll.

  • ||

    Rex Rhino: Learned my lesson about what? Let's not forget that the GOP got us into Iraq in the first place, blew up the size of gov't and thought we'd all be distracted by anti-homo constitutional amendments. There's no lesson to be learned because the Democrats had a freebie election: they couldn't make things worse, and it appears that they haven't.....yet.

  • lunchstealer||

    Yeah, Philip Morris made the incidence of toddler smoking go up 3000% with Joe Camel ads, but the government is helping America by subsidizing tobacco. Because, um, ah fuckit, free money!

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Making things worse at a slower pace is still making thing worse.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Were you the deciding vote on a senator too, or just your representative?

  • ||

    I've watched 15 presidential elections come and go. Fool me once, shame.....Fool me 14 times more and.... Ain't no fool like an old fool. Stopped being that big of a fool after the first one. Now just old

  • ||

    ...while increasing actual payments to farmers.



    Question for Representative Pelosi: Will you be increasing payments to dead farmers?

  • ||

    "Making things worse at a slower pace is still making thing worse."

    And when faced with an either/or choice which one would you vote for, the making things worse or the making things worse faster?

    MikeP: Huh? Last election I lived in Manhattan, so I'm pretty sure my vote was useless.

  • ||

    And when faced with an either/or choice which one would you vote for, the making things worse or the making things worse faster?

    I understand it's a matter of personal preference, but I would vote for neither. If there is no choice that actually makes things better, I abstain.

    Ask me again when I really truly do have the deciding vote.

  • ||

    In defense of Lamar:

    He tried to send a message. It's not his fault if they didn't get it.

    OTOH, when one shouts at a dinosaur, don't be surprised if the beast only understands it as "come and eat me."

  • x,y||

    Rex Rhino: Learned my lesson about what? Let's not forget that the GOP got us into Iraq in the first place, blew up the size of gov't and thought we'd all be distracted by anti-homo constitutional amendments. There's no lesson to be learned because the Democrats had a freebie election: they couldn't make things worse, and it appears that they haven't.....yet.

    Democrats before Bush & Co. have led us into unwinnable wars. And Democrats are largely responsible for the Leviathan we call the welfare state. Bush & Co. took it to another level.

    The question is: Did anyone seriously believe the Democrats would do anything to reverse these policies?

  • ||

    "Not just some troll, our resident, tenured troll."

    Ummm, libertarians don't do "tenure" -- they don't guarantee employment no matter how bad a job you do. Try, "our resident, entrenched troll." Or Troll Emeritus. Whatever.

  • ed||

    How about, "Our malignant cancer"?

  • ||

    If he-who-you-don't-want-to-name gets to be Resident Troll, can I be Resident Snark? [I might have to fight Pro Libertate and lunchstealer for this one.]

  • ||

    "And when faced with an either/or choice which one would you vote for, the making things worse or the making things worse faster?"

    I used to buy into that reasoning, when the real choice could more accurately be described as "making things worse in one way, or making things equally worse but using different methods". No mas. Did a whole lot of blank votes on my last ballot.

    I've worked at our state legislature for seven years. Believe it or not, politicians really do watch the number of blank ballots, and get nervous and change their behavior a bit when the blank numbers get abnormally high, because they know that the exploitees are getting fed up when that happens.

  • ||

    How does it compare to previous bills?

    I don't expect perfection from this Congress, just progress.

  • ||

    How about, "Our malignant cancer"?



    "Our readily-ignorable cyst?"

  • x,y||

    I don't expect perfection from this Congress, just progress.

    I don't know the answer to your question joe, but using that reasoning wouldn't you say the Democrats' war policy has been a failure ... due to lack of progress in get our troops home?

  • ||

    I just want to tell you that I read this post while eating pork chops.

    They were delicious, thanks for asking.

    I like Troll Emeritus, but if we want to go with undesired physical growths, how about Our Hairy Mole or Our Local Pimple or Our Irritating Mosquito Bite?

    Blech. Glad I already ate.

  • Freeranger||

    I'm a farmer and commodity broker, born and raised on a farm and a student of economics since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I've been taking money from Uncle Sugar since I started farming in 92, just like my daddy and grandaddy before me. We farmers on welfare have a transgenerational problem not unlike the welfare mothers everybody gets so exercised about. The difference is that many of us are rich. Some of us are very rich. Yet the checks just keep coming. Yet the great irony is that farm programs don't help farmers, as I'll explain later.

    This farm bill is a more of the same: an almost complete waste of money that does little or nothing for the average farmer. How can this be? Because large corporate interests write the bill and while they get very little of the benefits directly they get a very large share of the benefits directly. If you don't understand why you're too stupid to be reading this rag. But I'll explain anyway.

    Farmers make a low profit margin but they spent $222 billion or so to grow crops last year. That ain't hay We spend it on seed, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, machinery,and other stuff. We spend a little on labor but the aforementioned inputs are have replaced much of this over the years. It's classic government subsidized displacement of labor with capital. The winners of farm subsidies are the input suppliers as well as the land owners, as the subsidies get capitalized into land values and rents.

    Of course the biggest new boondoggle is ethanol, which is obscenely inefficient econonmically and obscenely harmful to the environment.

    The only possible farm subsidies that make any sense would be incentives to make farming less environmentally harmful, but I'd be in favor of the "Red Ticket" approach where externalities are taxed, like the carbon tax.

  • VM||

    "how about Our Hairy Mole "

    just as long as the hair growing from said Mole is sturdy and long enough to tie the foreskin to.

    /ewwwwww

  • ||

    Well that'll only work if our Not-Yet-Christened Troll is uncircumcised.

    Someone will have to ask.

    /NOT IT!

  • ||

    x,y,

    How many bills mandating the end of the war did that previous Congress pass? If there were five more Democrats in the Senate, the troops would have started coming home months ago.

    I'd say a great deal of progress has been made towards ending the war. The entire tenor of the debate has shifted, both in Congress an among the public, and more Republicans are defecting every week.

    I've yet to meet anyone who voted for the Democrats because of their opposition to the war who thought that they would switch it off like a light in January, but there certainly seems to be a great deal of effort among war supporters to hold that up as the only relevant measure of whether the Democrats have done anything. Which is funny, because before this Congress was seated, those same war supporters were declaring that even discussing the availability of body armor was the equivalent of handing Iraq over the Bad Guys.

  • ||

    joe:

    How does [the current Iraqi govt] compare to [Saddam Hussein]?

    I don't expect perfection from this [Iraqi govt], just progress.



    How does it sound now?

  • ||

    Democrats before Bush & Co. have led us into unwinnable wars.

    And they will again. Pull out of Iraq, invade the Sudan, rinse, lather, repeat.

    There's a fundamental difference between the reasons libertarians oppose the Iraq war and the reasons the Democrats do. Never forget that.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I don't get it. What kind of assistance do Farmer's Markets need? All you need to set one up is a parking lot and some farmers. And every one I've ever seen is tremendously popular.

  • ||

    crimethink,

    The government is better, the overall political situation worse.

    I trust that you have a point, though what it could be eludes me.

  • ||

    I don't particular care about the real reason Democrats want out of Iraq. I just care that they want to get it done.

  • ||

    I'd say a great deal of progress has been made towards ending the war. The entire tenor of the debate has shifted, both in Congress an among the public, and more Republicans are defecting every week.

    That's not because of anything the Democrats have done. It's because the war is such a clusterfuck. Do you think that the public would be supporting the war if the Republicans had held on to majorities in both houses? Correlation != causation.

    I trust that you have a point, though what it could be eludes me.

    My point is that your excuse-making for the Democrats in Congress sounds suspiciously like the Bushite excuse-making for the Iraqi parliament.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    I'm beginning to doubt that they really want to get it done. And I really doubt that they won't foolishly start another war in another Muslim country that has nothing to do with our national security (Sudan) once they get the ability to do so.

    It's a win-win for al-Qaeda; the Repubs want to remain in Iraq to help with their recruitment goals, and the Dems want to help them set up a branch office in the Sudan by invading there.

  • ||

    "How many bills mandating the end of the war did that previous Congress pass? If there were five more Democrats in the Senate, the troops would have started coming home months ago."

    joe, BS. You only need 51 votes to cut off funding in the Senate. And you need 67 votes to override a veto, not just the 60 votes to cut off debate and pass a bill which is DOA when it hits the president's desk. And if the Democrats don't have the guts to end the war when they have the 50 votes they need to cut off funding, they wouldn't have the guts to end the war if they had the 67 votes to override a veto.

    They don't want to end the war, they want to keep it going and blame it on the Republicans so they can get more votes to pass socialized medicine and really high minimum wages and all sorts of other statist BS.

    If the Democrats were really serious about ending the war, the troops would already be arriving stateside (or in Darfur, but that's a different thread.)

  • ||

    crimethink: they should have cut off funding. It's one of those tough decisions that you live or die by. The fact that they are trying to lay the blame on the GOP is sad.

  • ||

    And don't even get me started on them blocking a Senate vote on the Lugar proposal to implement the Iraq Study Group's recommendations. It would easily have snagged enough Repubs to get up to 60 votes, but Dingy Harry isn't interested in compromises, it would seem.

  • ||

    That's not because of anything the Democrats have done. It's because the war is such a clusterfuck.

    Of course not, crimethink, because the war was such a shining success throughout 2004, 2005, and 2006. Oh, wait, I meant "the first half of 2006." By the second half of 2006, when it became clear that the Democrats were going to take over Congress, Republicans were beginning to lose heart.

    What are the odds?

    Do you think that the public would be supporting the war if the Republicans had held on to majorities in both houses? I think Republicans would be supporting the war in the same lockstep manner they did six months before the last election, if they still held both houses. And it's Congress that matters here.

  • ||

    They don't want to end the war, they want to keep it going...

    Remember how partisan Republicans were describing the Democrats before it became apparent they would take Congress in 06?

    They sure as hell weren't saying the Democrats want to keep the war going, I'll tell you that.

    Republican: This funding bill isn't about whether you support the Iraq War. This is about supporting the troops. Regardless of how you feel about the war, you must support the troops, and give them the resources they need to be...wait, it passed?

    Yee-ha! Look at all the war-supporting Democrats! Hey, War Supporter, I think I'll call you "Warsy." Hi, Warsy, how's it going? You support any good wars lately, Warsy? Cuz you voted for that appropriations bill, so that means...

    Wait, we burned through the money already? We need another appropriations bill?

    Ladies and gentlemen, this bill is not about whether you support the war. It's about supporting the troops. Regardless of how you feel about...

    How long do you think anyone is going to believe that shtick?

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