Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Farm Bill Veto

President Bush vetoed the latest $289 billion U.S. farm bill. It is rare that I am in agreement with the Scion of Big Business, but I agree wholeheartedly with this.

Bush's reasoning is that this bill fails to reform subsidies to multimillionaire farmers at a time of high farm income and rising grocery prices.

Yes, you read that right! The question isn't whether or not Bush actually believes it (I'm sure he doesn't) but that he said it.

Even more shockingly, the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees say they have the votes for an override and they intend to put that into play immediately. By their estimates, the bill could become law within a week.

(Perhaps Bush rests comfortably in the knowledge that his veto will have no impact in the matter).

In a recent article originally published in Harper's Magazine, we are told that the economy is in much worse state than the government statistics reveal. The government statistics have been cleverly positioned and honed to put the national economy in the best light possible. This 'creative' data interpretation started with the Kennedy administration and continues today.

However, the article also points out that revealing the truth can even further impact the economy. We live balanced on a wire stretching from the top of skyscrapers: Which way should we go? How much information does the public have the right to know? How much could ultimately harm us?

Sadly, this article merely confirms what many of us already knew or suspected: The government has mismanaged our funds terribly, Big Business has repeatedly made decisions which are only beneficial for their executives and stockholders, and there is no end in sight.

It is time for the government to reign in this runaway freight train. They can start by tabling The Farm Bill.


The Lazy Iguana said...

Oh so now Bush is against welfare to rich people huh?

The thing is that most of that bill is not going to the big farmers. Smaller farms are reeling from high diesel prices. And now that ethanol is driving up corn prices, more land is going to corn production. This means less land for beans, wheat, and so on.

And then there is the food stamps. The bill would provide people on food stamps with a higher monthly allotment (to compensate a little for the rising prices) and also provide money for the additional people expected to apply for stamps as the economy continues to be not so great.

There is a lot more in it than subsidies to big farmers. But the subsidies to big farmers is all that Bush is talking about. The other things are being ignored.

Funny how that works.

Republicans in Congress will gladly vote to override the veto, and then in the general election claim whatever it is they are going to claim. Even if they voted for it too.

Plus, Bush would rather hand that money to contractor buddies under the cover of "the war on terror". Blackwater could always use a few billion more.

Mr. Fabulous said...

Okay, you've convinced me. Of course, my sales resistance is low...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy, this is exactly the reason why we shouldn't allow pork barrel spending: Everyone wants to attach their own private parasite to the bill.

So you're right: It's not JUST about the farm subsidies. And you're right about the attachments. The "bill would expand nutrition programs by $10.3 billion over 10 years, mostly to help poor Americans buy food. It encourages land stewardship and biofuels development."

Still, the majority of the bill IS about farming subsidies and as Charles Abbott says "Only a few thousand operators out of the 2 million U.S. farms would be affected by the bill's proposal to deny one type of farm subsidy to the wealthiest Americans, say critics. The farm bill would deny all subsidies to people with more than $500,000 a year in off-farm income and bar "direct" payments to those with more than $750,000 a year in farm income."

In addition, this is really angering the rest of the world who feels that in THIS area we will be outcompeting them BECAUSE the government is keeping the prices artificially low through subsidies. There's a real surprise, huh? An area where America is competitive. :P

daveawayfromhome said...

One thing you can be sure of, whatever Bush is saying as a reason for vetoing the bill is not the real one. And yes, he may be doing it because he knows that Congress will override it (perhaps it's a safe way to allow congressional Republicans to "distance" themselves from Bush without actually losing anything - the Republican Party is nothing if not a conspiracy of sorts).

Still, aside from the food aid to the poor (most likely what Bush objects to), this farm bill is pretty screwed up if it's like most of them. The whole system needs to be scrapped and rethought. For instance, did you know that part of the farm subsidy system effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops from switching to fruit and vegetables?

And I'm curious about that "limit" of $1.25 million a year; is that gross or net? Is that income before or after the farmer has covered the costs of farming, which are considerable. Most small farmers make about what any other middle class person makes (which, I can assure you, is no where near even a half mil). I have a lot of trouble finding any pity for someone who only made $500,000 this year as opposed to the $750,000 they may have projected. It's the farmer who makes $40,000 a year, and that only because he works a second job at Wal-Mart, who needs the farm benefits. The disappearance of the small farmer and the consolidation of small farms into huge corporate ones is going to come back and bite us on the ass someday, and it's going to bite us hard (much like the consolidation of Americas small companies and media outlets is biting us even now).

The Lazy Iguana said...

So if I am a farmer and I make more than $500,000 in "off farm" income or more than $750,000 in farm income I would not get any subsidy?

OK - sounds like big ag is being left out of this one? I would imagine the mega farms make well over $750,000 a year.

By keeping food prices low, it means I spend less at the supermarket. So ending it all would just means food prices go up?

Maybe we DO need food prices to go up. I see a whole lot of very fat people cracking sidewalks as they waddle down the street. They are over full of cheap food. Maybe America would be a healthier place if people could not afford to gorge themselves with crap food? I am not saying we should all starve, but clearly we are eating more than we need to.

Ill have to think that one over.

Now if I were in Congress I would provide more subsidies to hops growers, and I would also bless brewers I deemed to be producers of excellent American beer with a little gift.

Would that be evil?

I have decided that the Senate sucks. In the House I would get a car money allowance. I think the taxpayers would not mind seeing me in a convertible Corvette. No first class airline tickets for me - Ill drive there and beat the plane :)

daveawayfromhome said...

Lazy, you can bet that if there's a quarter million dollar cutoff for "small" farms, that Big Ag has figured out a way to jigger the system (likely the same way everyone else does, via smaller companies fronting for the big boy).

daveawayfromhome said...

Hey Saur, as an aside, do you pay attention to the comment thread going on two posts back, or are those of us still there just playing baseball in the rain?

Edge said...

George Bush hates Farm People! LOL

You know the banking industry is more to blame for a lot of the recession than oil. Bad loans caused a lot of problems financially, so banks aren't writing as many loans so money's not dripping into the economy. Oil isn't helping either and I have yet to hear a reason for the increase.

On pork barreling. A few days ago I came up with a way to stop it. Basically, it's a spending cap for each congressman. Each congressman gets x amount of dollars to spend on his constituents. HoR's gets percentages based on population and senators get a set amount. Its not just creating projects to get money.

And don't forget I like term limits.


Saur♥Kraut said...

Daveawayfromhome, I've been paying attention to both. I haven't jumped in to the Gay Marriage post yet because I had tons of stuff going on yesterday and much of what is written requires thought and delicacy to discuss. I wasn't up to that yesterday. I will today, though - and I'll jump in here, too.

Fred said...

Unfortunately, it's election year, and all the pols want to hang their hat on something. This should do.

daveawayfromhome said...

Saur, I dont know if you're still paying attention to this post, but I just read a solution to this problem from David Brin's blog that is brilliant!