And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Republicans Are Weak on Farm Subsidies

Posted on: February 9, 2011

Republicans Are Weak on Farm Subsidies – Michael Tanner – National Review Online.

Farm Subsidies is another one of my pet peeves.  This grievance began in 1963 when I married a farmer’s son.  Now Pop Brooker was a very small farmer on a very small farm and on top of all he was a retired farmer but he still got several thousand dollars each year from the Agriculture Department NOT TO FARM HIS LAND.  Why a farmer who had no intention of farming his land was being paid not to confused me then but  with all I have learned about farm subsidies over the past 45+ years I am no longer confused, I am outraged.  The entire Department of Agriculture IMO must be abolished, and the the very least  subsidizing farmers must end.  Both parties are guilty of supporting this bail out of farmers as well as many multi-billion dollar Agriculture-Corporations.  I found this article informative.   You must however keep in mind that not just the Republicans are involved.  It is just that they now control the House and are making so much noise about spending cuts.  Well you Old Dog Reps. time to put your mouth where OUR money is! BB

February 9, 2011 4:00 A.M.

Republicans Are Weak on Farm Subsidies
Congressional red-staters must take on their own constituents.

Last month, when the conservative Republican Study Committee released its plan for $2.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years, one enormous item of wasteful government spending was conspicuously missing — farm subsidies.

Perhaps that reflects the fact that 24 of the RSC’s 165 members sit on the House Agriculture Committee, the notorious overseer of farm-welfare programs. Total direct government farm payments to the districts of those 24 representatives alone costs taxpayers more than $1 billion per year. Numerous other RSC members hail from farm states, and therefore have a vested interest in protecting payments to their constituents. For example, RSC chairman Rep. Jim Jordan is not a member of the Agriculture Committee but represents an Ohio district that receives $30 million in direct payments annually.

We are also seeing the usual quadrennial pilgrimage of supposedly fiscally conservative Republican presidential candidates to Iowa, where they swear eternal fealty to farm subsidies generally, but, even worse, to ethanol subsidies in particular. Perhaps the most revolting example of this spectacle was former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s claim that opposition to ethanol subsidies and mandates stems from “big city” folks who just don’t like farmers. But Gingrich is hardly alone. Mitt Romney defends farm subsidies as a “national-security issue,” because somehow if farmers don’t get an annual government check, al-Qaeda will hold our food supply hostage. Romney, of course, is also a big backer of ethanol subsidies, as is former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who once keynoted the annual convention of the American Coalition for Ethanol. Sarah Palin? Mike Huckabee? Sorry, they are on the farm-subsidy/ethanol bandwagon too. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels sounded promising: “Farm subsidies in general ought to go away,” he says. But he too can’t break the ethanol addiction. A “national-security issue,” he says.  (I believe these people can all be taken off of my possible president list!  And as for ethanol it takes one and one half gallons of oil to produce one gallon of ethanol; now please tell me how this saves money or helps take us off of our dependence on foreign oil?  BB)

Incidentally, ethanol subsidies were extended as part of the lame-duck session’s compromise tax agreement in December. It was pushed in large part by six Republican senators, including John Thune, another putative presidential candidate.

The level of hypocrisy is breathtaking. For example, conservatives rightly denounced government subsidies to business when the auto industry was at issue. Why, then, are subsidies a good idea when directed to, say, Archer Daniels Midland?

Similarly, since the rise of the Tea Party, many Republicans have rediscovered fealty to the Constitution. Witness the cheers for Judge Vinson’s decision striking down Obamacare on constitutional grounds. One might ask, therefore, where these “constitutional conservatives” find constitutional authority for farm programs?

And it is hard to see how anyone can claim to be a fiscal conservative while supporting $15–35 billion per year in government spending that largely goes to a group of people with incomes above the national average. Farm income for 2010 exceeded $92.5 billion. That’s a 34 percent increase from 2009, and — even if you subtract payments from the government — 28.8 percent above the previous ten-year average. While conservatives often mythologize small farms, most farm subsidies go to large and corporate farms. In fact, the largest 10 percent of recipients receive 73 percent of all subsidy payments.

As for ethanol, this is a program that cost taxpayers $7.7 billion last year while driving up food and gasoline prices — and that causes more environmental damage than it solves. The national-security argument is far more slogan than reality. Ethanol’s impact on oil imports is minimal, less than 1 percent according to some studies. We could plant subsidized corn on every square inch of available land, and we would not significantly reduce our reliance on imported oil (most of which actually comes from such hostile countries as Canada).Unsupportable as farm subsidies are, they are part of a larger context that will continue to bedevil Republicans as they try to cut federal spending. It is always easier to cut the other guy’s subsidy. And some of the most deeply “red” states are among the biggest collectors of federal largess. In 2010, solidly Republican states such as Alaska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia were among the largest recipients of per capita federal spending. That means any serious attempt to cut federal spending is going to require Republicans to take on their own constituencies.

Farm subsidies will provide an early test of whether Republicans can do this. So far, the results are disappointing.

— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

4 Responses to "Republicans Are Weak on Farm Subsidies"

BB, it buys votes. Nuff said.

The laws of physics apply to many things in life Brenda. Change or tweak one parameter, factor, or ingredient, and it affects the rest. Additionally, because of the nature of dynamics forces, one can not correct anything without suspending the movement of all other forces.

Bottom line, governance will always be screwed in America since governance is divided between so many factions. Not saying that I want a sole dictator or king for our nation – just that there are limitations to our governance model.

Start messing with one part, and you continually have to mess with others. And it definitely is not a self-correcting model.

War or destruction by nature are probably the only forces which force a nation to correct its screw-ups.

“War or destruction by nature are probably the only forces which force a nation to correct its screw-ups”.

Agreed that messing with one part affects another, or many others. Our government MUST stop spending and our government MUST cut out much of the spending it have done in the past. A recent report shows that most government programs have been ineffective in doing what the program was designed to do. all they have done is grow government and tax payer burden. So we have to mess with many areas and cutting the programs out will “mess with” enough other stuff so as to get our government at the least headed towards a smaller impact on our lives. Bureaucrats have nothing to do but sit around writing regulations! There is no need for a good 50% of the personnel in any department in government except the police forces.

The above quote from you is certainly accurate in that nothing else is severe enough to force change. I think however that the brink of bankruptcy is the equivalent of war or natural destruction. The Young Republican Dogs in Congress also believe this —-at least I hope they do. Can only wait and see now which way it goes: the YRDogs save the day or we as a nation falter. either one will do the trick it is just that the YRDogs way will be easier to come back from. I do however have faith in Americans and our ability to get thru this or any other disaster. As I have stated many times we have it in our genes to be winners. Only the best (toughest, survivors, adventurers) of the lot came across the oceans to populate our country—this includes those who were brought here too as only the best survived being captives and slaves. BB

You hit the nail on the head Brenda: severity is the key. The other role that severity plays is that it essentially wipes out or suspends a multiplicity of parameters, factors, or ingredients.

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