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.