Irrespective of the outcome of this election, there must be no effort to pass major legislation during the lame duck session. We don’t need political suicide bombers who have nothing to lose deciding consequential issues immediately preceding their departure from Congress. As such, we must block any faux grand bargain during the post-election session. Unfortunately, it looks like we will have to contend with another threat during the lame duck; the trillion dollar food stamp/farm bill.
Yesterday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor told a crowd in Boise, “I’m committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass (a Farm Bill).”
I’d like to give him the benefit of doubt and assume that he is referring to a totally new bill – one which would sever the pernicious tie between farm subsidies and food stamp spending, while block granting the food welfare and phasing out the farm subsidies. Unfortunately, he is likely referring to the House Agriculture Committee bill (H.R. 6083). This bill should never come to the floor in a Republican Congress, let alone a lame duck session.
The House bill authorizes $957 billion in spending over 10 years, 80% of which will go towards food stamps. Despite erroneous claims in the media regarding severe cuts to food stamps, this bill actually consummates the Obama-era baseline into our entitlement empire forever. Furthermore, this bill adds an additional 3 crop insurance and price support programs that distort the market, encourage risky behavior, protect parochial interests, and are tendentious towards large farms. This bill also continues the egregious coddling of rich sugar farmers and the dairy supply regulations that you so aptly referred to as “Soviet style.”
If we can’t begin phasing out subsidies for an industry that reported income and exports in excess of $100 billion in 2011, we will never eliminate any subsidy. We will certainly never cut spending or limit government if we continue to tie food stamp spending to agriculture programs. Let’s wait until the new Congress begins, and pass separate bills that offer true reforms to these programs with the ultimate goal of winding them down.
The only farm-related issue that should be considered during lame duck – one that would bring real relief to livestock farmers and consumers alike – is the complete repeal of the ethanol mandate. Otherwise, let the congresscritters continue their protracted vacation until next year.