Price supports, the Farming Bill and Santa Claus Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, July 31, 2007
If you can't even get the LA Times behind your latest efforts, well, something is just not right. Today the Times properly, in my opinion, chastised Nancy Pelosi for the bloated and intrusive Farm Bill which she and the Democrats are trying to push through Congress:
If the farm bill that oozed through the House of Representatives last week is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's idea of accomplishing Democrats' goals, we prefer the good old days of do-nothing Congresses. Pelosi, whose San Francisco district is a center of opposition to traditional farm subsidies, hammered together a broad coalition of Democrats aiming to preserve the status quo for another five years.
Democratic leaders did it by playing Santa Claus.
Heh ... loved the line about the "do-nothing Congress". Also appreciated the point about playing "Santa Claus". That doesn't let Republicans off the hook, btw. They like to play Santa Claus too, just to a different constituency.
However, this behemoth of a bill is something we have to live with for 5 years. Reminds me of the old 5 year plans of the Soviet Union.
Anyway, first to get the votes necessary to move this legislation, a new constituency had to be bought:
To representatives from California and other states that don't grow the types of crops that traditionally get federal handouts, they doled out $1.6 billion for specialty crops such as vegetables and nuts.
Then, of course, one more constituency had to be satisfied:
To the Congressional Black Caucus, they handed at least $100 million to help settle discrimination lawsuits by minority farmers.
And finally, the big city boys and girls had to be enticed to support it too:
To urban liberals, they gave a needed expansion of the food stamp program.
As for the rest, well business, or should I say, price supports as usual:
And to Democrats in farm states, they presented a bill that keeps in place all of the trade-distorting subsidies that made the 2002 farm bill a shameful violation of international agreements.
Uh, but the Dems weren't going to do all of that, were they?
Of course the LA Times isn't against everything in the bill. They find the expansion of the food stamp program to be "worthwhile". No surprise there.
And how will we pay for all of this?
To pay for all this, the bill would impose a new tax on U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies.
And that, per the Times, might violate international treaties.
I love their solution to stopping this travesty though.
There are three ways to undo the damage Pelosi and company have wrought. First, the Senate could craft a more sensible farm bill when it takes up the matter in September. Second, Bush could make good on his veto threat. And third, Canada and Brazil could win their cases at the World Trade Organization challenging some U.S. farm supports. Because options two and three would only confuse the issue, the best hope for real reform lies with the Senate.
Or, to be very clear about their last way, Senate Republicans. I'm not quite as hopeful that Senate Republicans will step up on this because, unfortunately, there usually is broad support within both parties to play Santa Claus with this bill.
And just as interesting as the discussion of the bill is the Times characterization of the Pelosi House. Not much left to the imagination as to their feeling about how Pelosi has managed it to this point, is there?