Farm Subsidies

This Is What Happens When No One Actually Reads the Bill

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More farm bill fun:

The House overwhelmingly rejected President Bush's veto Wednesday of a $290 billion farm bill, but what should have been a stinging defeat for the president became an embarrassment for Democrats.

Only hours before the House's 316-108 vote, Bush had vetoed the five-year measure, saying it was too expensive and gave too much money to wealthy farmers when farm incomes are high. The Senate then was expected to follow suit quickly.

Action stalled, however, after the discovery that Congress had omitted a 34-page section of the bill when lawmakers sent the massive measure to the White House.

That means Bush vetoed a different bill from the one Congress passed, raising questions that the eventual law would be unconstitutional. Republicans objected when Democrats proposed passing the missing section separately and sending that to Bush.

In order to avoid those potential problems, House Democrats hoped to pass the entire bill, again, on Thursday under expedited rules usually reserved for unopposed legislation. The Senate was expected to follow suit. The correct version would then be sent to Bush under a new bill number for another expected veto.

Lawmakers also will have to pass an extension of current farm law, which expires Friday.

This may be my favorite foulup since New York's electors voted for an imaginary presidential candidate called "John L. Kerry." Alas, the story will still almost certainly end with the bill enshrined as a law.

NEXT: It May Shock You. It Might Even Horrify You.

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  1. I’d be almost funny if it was someone else’s money.

  2. I just saw that a few minutes ago. My conspiracy detector was clanging wildly.

    But I’m also prepared to believe they’re just morons; it’s a hypothesis which fits the evidence.

  3. I almost wonder if this bill would have failed in congress if Bush promised not to veto it…

  4. Yes, you would be!

  5. What are the missing 34 pages? What would have happened if Bush had actually signed it? Did he miss a grand opportunity?

  6. What are the missing 34 pages? What would have happened if Bush had actually signed it? Did he miss a grand opportunity?

    Title III is apparently the section of the bill that authorizes international food aid. It’s only 1% of the spending of the bill, and probably among the least objectionable parts of the bill. Of course, it still has objectionable parts, like how it requires that food aid be purchased from American farmers at artificially high rates and shipped overseas, taking weeks, and forbids food aid from being bought from local farmers. Administration actually moved to allow 25% to be spent locally.

  7. FUCK THE FARM BILL
    FUCK IT!
    Naked, unadulterated, corruption getting greased through the legislature. A massive fist that we’re all going to have to bend over and spread em for.

    FUCK IT!!!

    The Farm Bill is finding out your wife is cheating on you while having a heart attack depressing.
    God, I need a drink… Better make it vodka. They make that out of potatoes right? Rice? Whatever, as long as it makes me forget and isn’t corn!

  8. Originally, it was made from potatoes. Although some eastern European vodkas are still made from potatoes and corn, most of the high quality imports and all vodka made in the United States are distilled from cereal grains, such as wheat.

  9. Before anybody blames the Democrats and lets the Republicans off the hook, ask yourself this question: During the six years when the Republicans controlled congress while Bush was president, how many times did he veto the farm bill and/or how many times did the Republicans pass a reasonable one?

    Oh, that would be zero.

    Plus, the Democrats needed significant Republican support to override Bush’s veto in the first place.

    This is a bipartisan fuck up that is not fixable. Both parties load up on farm pork in equal measures.

  10. The missing 34 pages include scenes from the season finale of Lost, so ABC got a court order to remove those pages. Damon Lindelof was going to send a team of mercenaries to wipe out anybody who had read those 34 pages, but nobody in Congress actually reads a bill, so it turned out to be irrelevant.

  11. Didn’t a Minnesota elector cast his/her vote for “John Edward” [sic] as President in 2004 as well?

    And to think, the Founding Fathers thought the electors would be a wall of sensibility to keep the uneducated rabble under control.

  12. Yes, incomes are high, but the expenses are on a more dramatic rise. Fertilizer costs have doubled in the last year alone.

    Thanks to the ethanol mandate my inputs (fuel, fertilizer) for wheat have gone through the roof.

    Thanks Iowa! Thanks Congress! Thanks Dubya!

    *incoherent mumbling……

  13. I’m definitely not letting any Republicans off the hook.

    But this is an opportunity (which will undoubtedly be allowed to pass unmolested) for a real breakthrough.
    Consider what might happen if they broke the Bill into its (slightly more bite-sized) component parts, and then had a roll call vote on each section, and sent the sections individually to el Jefe.

    I’ll be holding my breath.

  14. This is not nearly as funny as when Father Albinizi was elected Pope.

  15. Here’s a question for all you McCain sympathizers out there: What is the likelihood President McStraighttalk would veto a Bill simply because it’s a giant, amorphous, mishmash of unrelated crap?

  16. Proposed constitutional ammendment:

    Following the passage of a bill by the house, the house shall be presented with a copy from which random sections have been removed. If the representatives who voted for the bill cannot identify the locations of all such missing portions, the bill shall be considered void.

  17. Damon Lindelof was going to send a team of mercenaries to wipe out anybody who had read those 34 pages, but nobody in Congress actually reads a bill, so it turned out to be irrelevant.

    Or so you think. I hear some aides are missing. Or are “lost”, if you prefer.

  18. During the six years when the Republicans controlled congress while Bush was president, how many times did he veto the farm bill and/or how many times did the Republicans pass a reasonable one?

    Oh, that would be zero.

    Oh, certainly Geotpf. Though your wording is very strange; you do realize that there only is a farm bill every five years, and there was only one farm bill during those six years anyway, right? “How many times” is such a strange way to put it. Regardless, the 2002 farm bill was a monstrosity.

  19. Echoing Warren’s 11:01am comments, the farm bill reminds me of a line from Bloodhound Gang’s song “I hope you die” —

    “And when you finally regain consciousness,
    you remember fist can be a verb.”

  20. Following the passage of a bill by the house, the house shall be presented with a copy from which random sections have been removed. If the representatives who voted for the bill cannot identify the locations of all such missing portions, the bill shall be considered void.

    Great idea, but I’d go one further and make the legislators recite the bill from memory.

    Not only would it force them to read the damn thing, but all bills would be far shorter and contain far simpler language.

  21. Warren, how could you let this happen?

  22. John Thacker,

    True, they only voted on one farm bill, but they sent plenty of other pork-laden monstrosities to the White House during that time, and Bush happily signed those.

    And of course, for the guy who fired people in his administration for talking about the hidden costs in his Medicare bill a few years ago, to be complaining about the hidden costs in this farm bill is the height of hypocrisy (though I expect no less from that guy).

  23. Not only would it force them to read the damn thing, but all bills would be far shorter and contain far simpler language.

    They might even rhyme and follow a catchy rhythm, the better for easy recall.

  24. [attempted to write 4-line rhyming farm bill poem, failed after line 1]

  25. Chris Potter,

    Absolutely, I’d agree that Bush is apparently infinitely more likely veto an awful bill passed by a Democratic Congress than one passed by a Republican Congress. It’s a hypocrisy common to politicians, though, near universal. (Sen. McCain’s penchant for upsetting his own side thus has its attraction, though I dislike some of the things he’s sponsored as a result, such as McCain-Feingold.) It is certainly a good argument for divided government.

    In this particular case, I’d rather have the hypocrisy than him happily signing this one as well.

  26. farm bill bacon fest

    hits procedural tripwire

    plow it under now

  27. Corn is our new god.
    Golden kernels, happy pigs.
    Cars smell like Fritos.

  28. Proposed Constitutional Amendment,
    All laws passed by Congress expire within five years, and to pass a law Congress has to get a 2/3 majority in both houses to support it. The expiration part would keep laws from staying on the books longer than they could keep the active support of a two-thirds majority. Of course, it doesn’t help with this bill, but it would be a great improvement.

  29. I hate to get all partisan here:

    Here’s a question for all you McCain Obama sympathizers out there: What is the likelihood President McStraighttalk OHopeVCyncism would veto a Bill simply because it’s a giant, amorphous, mishmash of unrelated crap?

    Is it cynical or divisive to suggest that we’re unlikely to make much progress either way?

    I like what I see above, maybe we libertarians need something more catchy. We should position ourselves as avant-garde “legal minimalists”. I’m aware of an old law against murder that’s only four words. Surely we can cut a farm bill down to 20. (or zero, ideally)

  30. Surely we can cut a farm bill down to 20.

    Grow as much as you want, sell it for what you can get, and keep your mitts off my wallet.

    That should do it, no?

  31. This is a bipartisan fuck up that is not fixable. Both parties load up on farm pork in equal measures.

    Umm, the “no” votes are disproportionately from Republicans. Bipartisan, yes, “in equal measures”, no.

  32. prolefeed: Exactly. It’s particularly notable that Bush was pushing to cut subsidies to agribusiness and rich farmers and to help poor foreign farmers by buying food from them, while Pelosi was fighting for the opposite. So much for all that Democratic party hype about taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

  33. There are heaping gobs of cash in the bill for farmers who don’t grow anything.
    I eagerly await the next energy bill, when, out of fairness, Evil Oil is paid for not drilling.
    Gas should be $8 a gallon by then. Almost as high as milk.

  34. PapayaSF:

    And the 2002 farm bill passed 280-141. Voting yes were 137 Democrats, 141 Republicans and 2 independents. Voting no were 68 Democrats, 73 Republicans and no independents.

    I’m going to be generous and say that the formerly opposing Democrats switched to yes because of the food stamp increases, but of course “whose in charge” hypocrisy may have been most of it.

  35. Link to 2002 farm bill House roll call

    So, when Republicans are in control, the farm bill pork is supported in equal measure. When Democrats are in control, it’s supported much more by Democrats, but still by half of Republicans. I don’t know if anyone cares enough to distinguish between those cases.

  36. R C Dean, as a farmer I wholeheartedly support that sentiment.

    Here’s the problem, the populace seems to think that the latest mandates have gotten the commodity markets out of whack, all while ignoring the fact that they have been out of whack for the last fifty some odd years. Government policy has conditioned voters to believing that they are entitled to a cheap and stable food supply. So now that the state has changed the dangling carrot, er… ear of corn, they somehow think that something should be done to curb the “windfall profits” of farmers.

    Governmental meddling has become so ingrained that any alteration in said meddling is seen as a threat to the status quo.

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