Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Tuesday 09/18/12

Farm Bill Foolishness Validates Vilsack on Cuts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned last week to members of the National Association of State Directors of Agriculture that if Congress didn't pass a farm bill before adjourning at the end of this week that lawmakers would push for steeper cuts in commodity programs, conservation and crop insurance in the lame-duck session specifically to offset tax cuts or avoid spending reductions in the military.

The Wall Street Journal editorial on Tuesday, "Farm Bill Foolishness," seems to validate Vilsack's argument. The Journal editorial defends House inaction on the farm bill, stating "Taxpayers should hope that Republicans keep this boondoggle buried."

The farm bill does now appear to be cruising into the lame duck session. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., conceded as much in a Roll Call article.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is trying one last push on Wednesday to "whip" support for a farm bill vote.

The argument in the WSJ is that House leadership wants to include "sky-high farm bill dollars" into the larger fight over spending and taxes. "Regardless of who wins in November, Democrats will use the threat of the coming defense sequester to try to force Republicans to agree to President Obama's tax hikes," the WSJ editorial states. "The GOP is going to need every bit of flexibility to offer smart spending reforms as an alternative, and farm programs offer prime targets."

Farm programs aren't the only battle. House members are fighting about food stamps as well. The House farm bill cuts $16 billion over 10 years while the House budget proposed $134 billion in cuts.

But at the end of the day, the WSJ acknowledges House leaders can't "allow Mr. Obama to take credit" for getting a farm bill, while undermining the GOP on spending. Instead, the WSJ says that the farm bill should be open for greater debate for offsets and cuts. "With the entire budget up for grabs in the lame-duck session, farm programs don't deserve any special privilege."

One of the problems with that argument, however, is that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are the only committees that have offered any reductions in the growth of spending. All of the others have balked.

The full editorial can be found at http://dld.bz/…

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 11:48AM CDT 09/18/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (1)
This group has always been a little cavalier about how they spend OUR money. If anything happens in a "Lame Duck" session we don't like, there's always this little procedure called "Recall".
Posted by Ric Ohge at 10:23AM CDT 09/19/12
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