The Farm Bill’s Harvest: Bigger, Costlier Government

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

Earlier this year, we were entreated to a vivid example of how neither party is committed to shrinking the federal government and bolstering private enterprise when they passed a five-year Farm/Food Stamp bill.  CBO pegged the 10-year cost of the bill at $965 billion, up from $604 billion in 2008.  Yet, the politicians sold it as an $8 billion cut because it fell short of the notional $973 billion baseline.

Aside for the raw cost of the bill, the structural changes on the agriculture side and the lack of reforms on the food stamp side actually made the bill even worse:  At the time, we noted the following:

Moreover, any projected score on food stamp spending is meaningless.  The food stamp program is part of mandatory spending, and given the fact that this bill fails to structurally reform the program on a large scale, the 10-year cost will continue to rise as more people are encouraged to join.

On the agriculture side, this bill is an even bigger joke.  Drafters of the bill are boasting how they are abolishing $5 billion in direct subsidies. The problem is that this bill creates new subsidy programs, which will be even more expensive and market-distorting – and they will be permanent law, not subject to reauthorization.

The Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) would guarantee shallow loss off of record revenue farmers have been enjoying over the past few years.  The shallow loss program would kick in when revenue dips below 86% of recent year amounts  The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) would trigger subsidies when prices for certain commodities dip below target prices.  For many crops, prices are already beginning to drop towards the cusp of those trigger levels.  Hence, the cost of these programs will probably spike much higher than originally projected when CBO scored the bill with the higher prices.

Less than two months later, both predictions have come true.  With regards to food stamp spending, the lack of structural reforms is precluding the actualization of even the notional baseline savings.  Here is a report from NPR explaining why the “savings” from food stamp “reforms” never got off the ground:

The cuts were related to a program known as “heat and eat.” In the past, it had allowed the participating states to give low-income households as little as $1 a year in home heating aid so they’d qualify for more food stamps.

States said it made the program and got help to those who needed it. But the maneuver was called a loophole by both Republicans and Democrats. So last month, Congress agreed to raise the amount of utility assistance states would have to pay to trigger the provision — to more than $20 a year.

The idea was that many of the states that use “heat and eat” would decide it wasn’t worth their while. The expected result? Some 850,000 food stamp recipients would have their benefits cut an average $90 a month, which is where the savings would come in.

Turns out, Congress was wrong.

The “heat and eat” program covers 16 states, plus the District of Columbia. Six states — Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon and Montana — have already declared that they will boost home energy benefits to avoid the food stamp cuts. Two other participants — Vermont and D.C. — are actively working to do the same thing.

With regards to the farm subsidies, Heritage Action has cited a new analysis from the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute confirming our worst suspicions – the new subsidy programs will cost more than the direct payments and more than CBO originally projected:

Despite the elimination of direct payments, the new farm bill is going to pay off better than the 2008 law for many growers and could be more costly to taxpayers than the Congressional Budget Office estimated, according to an analysis released Thursday that provides the first up-to-date look at the bill’s impact.

According to economists with the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, the cost of the farm bill’s new Price Loss Coverage program will start at $2.1 billion for this year’s crops and increase to $3.4 billion by 2018.

CBO had estimated the PLC would cost roughly $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion a year through 2019. The CBO analysis was based off a forecast issued last year when market prices were higher. PLC will trigger payments when prices fall below fixed levels, or reference prices.

Every Republican running as a conservative this year must take notice.  This is just one example of how the GOP establishment has no intention of fighting for limited government, and to the extent that they entice rank-and-file members into supporting shiny objects, there is always a catch.

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Mitch McConnell, the Farm Bill and the Power of Logrolling

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

[The voting spreadsheet has been updated due to some errors taken from an old roster of Congress.  We apologize for the mistake. – Madison Project Staff]

Earlier today, the House passed the Farm/Food Stamp bill boondoggle.  Sadly, only 63 Republicans opposed it.  The bill locks in Obama’s food stamp regime, creates and expands numerous Soviet-style agriculture subsidies and conservation regulations, and authorizes more spending on the biofuels fiasco.  House Republicans got rolled in the conference committee by Senate Democrats, yet almost 75% of the conference dutifully followed leadership.

Click here for a color-coded spreadsheet of the GOP vote.

There is also one other point overlooked in this bill – earmarks.  You will notice that some good members voted for this terrible bill.  In particular, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) voted for the bill!

Why?

Well, knowing Massie he wasn’t too enthralled about the underlying piece of legislation.  Presumably, he supported the bill because a provision to allow a pilot program growing industrial hemp was inserted into the legislation. And, guess who is now bragging about his involvement in this form of logrolling? That’s right, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Thanks to Mitch McConnell, he made it easier to grow government and increase spending.  Industrial hemp is very popular in the state, and what better way to buy off votes than by inserting this provision into the bill.  While this provision might not meet the technical definition of an earmark, it has all of the harmful characteristics of one.

We’ve always noted that the problem with earmarks or extraneous provisions is not the “small potatoes” expenditure.  The problem is that the $500,000 earmark is then used to buy off a conservative vote for a $1 trillion omnibus, farm bill or some other terrible transformational legislation.  The earmarks are used as the magic “grease” to garner majority support for big-government legislation.  Once we reinstate the practice of earmarking, we will never be able to mobilize a majority within the Conference to oppose any big-government legislation.  Most of them will be seduced into supporting bad legislation through personal earmarks for their districts.  This is the “multiplying factor” of earmarks.

This hemp provision is a superlative example of how Mitch McConnell and others quietly enable the growth of government.  If this is something that is necessary and popular then pass it in a separate bill.  Placing it in a massive welfare/subsidy bill only helps advance the liberal agenda.  Would McConnell and others have supported Obamacare if it had a hemp provision attached?  We’d hate to see what finds its way into the immigration bill!

It is precisely because of leaders like McConnell and the use of logrolling provisions that we are stuck in the situation we are in today.

And this is another reason why we must change leadership.  I’m not here to dump on Massie.  He’s a great conservative.  But that’s the point.  The way GOP leaders do business is so antithetical to our values that it creates a “meat grinder” dynamic in which even the best members are faced with tough decisions on bad votes.

Business as usual in Washington will never change with current leadership.  They are not a symptom of the problem.  They are the problem.  Not only do people like Mitch McConnell enable the growth of government, they corrupt an entire state delegation and act as a malignant force on the broader effort to downsize the federal government.  That is why we need game-changers like Matt Bevin in the Senate.

The Farm Bill Boondoggle

Monday, January 27th, 2014 and is filed under Debt

Some things will never change in Washington.  And this week’s deal on the Farm/Food Stamp bill is a perfect example of Washington’s recalcitrance to conservative reforms.  After months of a protracted K Street food fight, the majority of the lobbyists appear to have brought home enough bacon and have settled on a deal.

Throughout the week you will find headlines heralding the bipartisan agreement to “save” $24 billion in Farm Bill – $8 billion from food stamps and $15 billion from agriculture.  But as we’ve learned from past experiences, spending cuts in Washington parlance are quite unique.

The CBO’s 10-year score for the 2008 Farm Bill was $604 billion.  After Obama engendered a massive increase in food stamp spending with looser eligibility requirements, the overall baseline was driven up to roughly $972.8 billion.  The House proposed a $40 billion “cut” in food stamp spending from that baseline.  The Senate proposed a $4 billion “cut.”  They get together in conference and….drum roll…we have an $8 billion cut….off the $972 billion baseline.  That is what counts for cutting spending in Washington.

Moreover, any projected score on food stamp spending is meaningless.  The food stamp program is part of mandatory spending, and given the fact that this bill fails to structurally reform the program on a large scale, the 10-year cost will continue to rise as more people are encouraged to join.

On the agriculture side, this bill is an even bigger joke.  Drafters of the bill are boasting how they are abolishing $5 billion in direct subsidies. The problem is that this bill creates new subsidy programs, which will be even more expensive and market-distorting – and they will be permanent law, not subject to reauthorization.

The Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) would guarantee shallow loss off of record revenue farmers have been enjoying over the past few years.  The shallow loss program would kick in when revenue dips below 86% of the past few years.  The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) would trigger subsidies when prices for certain commodities dip below target prices.  For many crops, prices are already beginning to drop towards the cusp of those trigger levels.  Hence, the cost of these programs will probably spike much higher than originally projected when CBO scored the bill with the higher prices.

The only logical outcome of this bill is that reforms to both agriculture subsidies and food stamps will be precluded for another five years.  So much for the GOP promise to sever the two issues so we can reform each one independently in the future.

It’s also important to note that it’s bills like this which help create a culture of dependency in red states (on top of the blue state dependency culture).  You will hear many of the Republicans who represent these districts speak out passionately against Obamacare, yet celebrate the endless agriculture subsidies in this bill.  What they fail to tell you is that it is precisely this bipartisan culture of injecting the federal government into private enterprise that has given rise to the climate which engendered passage of Obamacare.  The Feds didn’t take over the healthcare sector overnight.  It was facilitated by the precedent of decades’ worth of government intervention in private industries such as agriculture.  If government can completely control commodity prices through price targeting, trade barriers, and production quotas, it wasn’t such a drastic leap to take over the healthcare sector.

Federal intervention into state and private business will not end overnight or in one year.  But this Farm Bill is one more indication that we will never have a chance to downsize government so long as the current politicians are leading both political parties.  They continue to add more government intervention even on top of the rare programs that are repealed.

This bill doesn’t represent incremental reform; it is a classic bait-and-switch subterfuge to spend more and grow government, while seizing the mantle of fiscal reform.  Conservatives beware.

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House Conservatives Beware the New Whipping Strategy

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, News

Over the past few years, the number of conservatives in the House has grown exponentially.  Well, at least to the extent that you can’t count them on your fingers.  Unfortunately, House conservatives are about to become a victim of their own successes if they fail to change course.

In a sane world, Republicans would have more leverage than the Democrats over the legislative process.  They have full control over the House and a filibuster-strength minority in the Senate.  Consequently, they have the ability to block bad legislation from passing the Senate, while jamming the Democrats with good bills from the House.

But such a process is predicated on a Republican leadership that actually stands for Republican values.  The reality is the opposite.  We have Mitch McConnell outsourcing his leadership to McCain and Graham so that a number of bad bills pass the Senate (McConnell makes sure to vote against the bills, of course).  Then, instead of ignoring unpopular bills that pass the Senate, House leaders work indefatigably to see how they can pass Senate bills.

Here is how the cycle of capitulation plays out.  House conservatives balk at leadership’s initial attempt to pass bad legislation.  Leadership is defeated.  Conservatives prematurely view this as a sign of strength.  Then, McCarthy and the whipping team come to conservatives and “whip” up general principles from conservatives.  They ask them what it would take to get them to a “yes vote.”  Conservatives mistakenly perceive this as a conciliatory gesture form leadership, when in reality, it is an attempt to get them to sign on to bad bills.  Conservatives offer some general principles.  Leadership commits to those general principles.  Then they offer a new bill that employs a subterfuge in which those principles are addressed on paper in general terms, yet they are completely voided out by the specifics of the bill or the strategy behind the process.  But because those principles are addressed in a superficial way, conservatives feel as if they had already given their word to vote for the bill.  Repeat and rinse as needed.

During the 2011 debt ceiling fight, conservatives rallied behind Cut, Cap, and Balance as a precondition for raising the debt ceiling.  Leadership had no intention of abiding by that condition.  They offered a new plan that gutted the spending cap and initial cuts but retained a balanced budget as part of the second tranche of the debt ceiling hike.  All but 22 conservatives signed onto it because it officially contained a balanced budget amendment, as promised, even though it wasn’t CCB.  As we all know, they ultimately caved on that deal and passed a new plan to merely require a vote on a balanced budget amendment, not passage.  Leadership hoodwinked conservatives into abjuring their principles because their ridiculous plan was supposedly “in the spirit of cut, cap and balance.”

Last January, leadership confronted another debt ceiling and a CR that contained funding for Obamacare.  They asked conservatives what they needed to get to yes.  Conservatives said they wanted the sequester cuts and a budget that balanced in 10 years.  The sequester cuts were going to be enacted by default anyway.  So what did they do with the budget?  They repackaged last year’s Ryan budget, which balanced in 2040, to include all the new revenue from Obamacare tax hikes, fiscal cliff tax hikes, and overly optimistic CBO revenue projections, and poof….they had a balanced budget in 10 years.  The budget actually called for more spending than the previous iteration.  So they manipulated conservatives into a trap where they co-opted their general principles with a crap sandwich.  Moreover, they never committed to actually standing behind that budget as a pre-condition for raising the debt ceiling this fall.

Last week, leadership asked conservatives what they needed to get to yes with the farm bill.  They asked to split up food stamps and the agriculture subsidies.  Now the entire purpose of splitting up the bill is so we can reform both sides without the legislative logrolling.  Instead, leadership added massive new subsidies and made all the programs, including the sugar subsidies, permanent law.  So while conservatives got what they wanted on paper, making it difficult for them to say no, they were forced to vote for something even worse.

Why am I going through all this “inside baseball?”

Leadership plans to do the same thing with immigration.  Here is a very troubling report from National Review’s Robert Costa:

McCarthy’s message in those sessions was simple: “You bring people together and you tell them, ‘This is like sitting in the exit row.’ You have to see who is willing, at some level, to support it,” he says. “Then you go around the room and get people engaged. We quickly found that by splitting up the bill, we’d be able to get to our number. Once we got there, it was a huge shot in the arm, but you’ve got to get there first.”

McCarthy believes the farm-bill experience has consequences beyond alleviating internal tensions. He says House Republicans, who have long been cautious about moving forward on immigration reform, are now more open to considering such legislation. Before the farm bill, there was resistance to pursuing a piecemeal strategy and doubts about the leadership’s cloakroom clout. Since the farm bill passed, “I’ve felt momentum,” McCarthy says. “We’re able to do things on our own terms.”

He argues that the farm bill’s passage, though arduous, also gives Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia leverage for negotiations with Democrats on immigration, since they proved that they still have the support of a majority of House Republicans on big-ticket items. “The speaker’s hand is strengthened,” he says. “In politics, you’ve got to show that you can get bills through without the other side. We did that, and we got back to where we needed to be as a Republican team.”

Keep in mind that Eric Cantor and Bob Goodlatte are already crafting piecemeal amnesty bills and Paul Ryan is working on promoting a House gang bill.

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Why We Need New Leadership

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Elections, Immigration, Issues, News

Many conservatives are placing false hopes in the GOP-controlled House to do the right thing on policy issues.  They are being fooled by some superficial concessions leadership has made to conservatives on some of these issues, misplacing their actions for sincere motivations.  We are seeing this both with the farm/food stamp bill and the amnesty bill.

Conservatives won a major legislative victory last month when over 60 Republicans banded together to defeat the $940 trillion Food Stamp/Farm Bill.  We have long maintained that it is better to extend current policy than to pass a long-term bill that creates more programs and precludes real reform for another 5 years.  Leadership has finally agreed to split up the farm and food stamp components into separate bills.  They are claiming that conservatives got what they wanted with the new bill.  But again, let’s take a look at their motivation.

It’s not that these people have discovered a newfound affinity for phasing out welfare and eliminating corporate welfare.  They want both of them.  It’s just that our numbers and degree of influence has increased to the point that they are forced to offer that concession and split up the bill.

So who cares what is motivating them, you might ask.

Well, once they are finished with the head fake and pass an agriculture-only bill, they plan to go to conference with the Senate and re-sow the food stamp portion back into the bill.  Moreover, even if they sever the two portions of the bill, they should not bring them to the floor without major reforms.  The point of separating them out, as conservatives have noted all along, is so we can actually reform them individually without the robust alliance they enjoy when bundled together.  What is the point of separating them without reforms?  We will just get two separate welfare bills – one individual and one corporate – instead of a combo bill.  And ultimately, we will get the grand combo in conference.

It’s all about trust, and there is no trust with them.

And speaking of trust, yesterday’s immigration conference should serve as a stark reminder that we can’t trust House leadership. Despite the conventional wisdom that the bill is DOA is the House, I have been concerned about 3 things – all of which were confirmed in yesterday’s conference.  1) They won’t pass the Senate bill, but they will pass their own pale-pastel version that agrees to the premise of legalization first. They will strip out or delay citizenship, but still agree to some sort of legalization before enforcement. 2) They will take good enforcement bills and go to conference with the Senate. 3) They will go for incremental amnesty like the Dream Act.

Based on what I’ve heard from members in the meeting, all those sentiments were expressed.  More broadly, there is a maniacal and incorrigible obsession to pass “something.” That is all you need to know.  All the other statements from leadership are not born out of conviction, rather out of fear from the conservative members of the conference.  They want this amnesty badly.  There is not a single consultant in town who doesn’t want it.  It’s a matter of how to get there.

[ To digress a bit, amidst all of the incoherent drivel and platitudes propagated in favor of amnesty, read this piece from Rep. Tom Cotton in the Wall Street Journal.  It is the most cogent position I’ve seen on this issue from a member of Congress.]

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The Power of a Primary Challenge

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues

Conservatives are aghast at the actions of 15 GOP senators who are hell-bent on passing immigration deform despite the thousands of calls that are flooding into their offices.  It is truly bewildering how they are putting the desires of illegal immigrants and foreign lobbies over the vast majority of Americans, especially Republican and Independent voters.  Ultimately, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.  These scoundrels simply don’t fear us because we fail to challenge them every six years when they stand for reelection.

Primary challenges work wonders.  The latest example is House T & I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster.  He has never voted against a farm bill before.  But a challenge from Art Halvorson impelled a cathartic change in this big government Republican.  Here’s a notable report from Molly Hooper:

Several key GOP incumbents already have primary contests, including Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.).

Both lawmakers were among those who bucked their GOP leadership team to oppose the farm bill last week. Shuster initially voted “yes,” then changed his mind on the House floor.

GOP incumbents representing safe districts are keenly aware they are under the microscope of influential conservative advocacy groups that “score” votes on key bills and amendments.

In addition to the final vote, Shuster made sure to vote for all the conservative amendments.  He voted to eliminate the Market Access Program, which grants corporate welfare for large producers to market their products overseas (Indian reality TV, wine tasting in Japan, etc.).  The timing is quite peculiar because he voted against an identical amendment in 2011. [Roll Call #457, 2011]

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A Roundup of Farm Bill Votes

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

As promised, here is a review of some of the major amendments offered during debate over the farm bill in the House.  You can click here to see the color-coded spreadsheet of how each Republican voted on the amendments and final passage.  The bill failed 195-234 with 62 Republicans voting no.

Here is a synopsis of some of the major amendments with the vote tallies:

  • Foxx, R-N.C., amendment that would cap the total amount of price loss coverage payments and revenue loss coverage payments during fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2020 at $17 million. It would require producer agreements to specifically state that payments made under these programs be reduced as necessary to comply with the cap. [Passed 267-156 : R 183-48; D 84-108…CQ]
  • Broun, R-Ga., amendment that would repeal permanent price support authority for milk. [Failed 112-309 : R 109-122; D 3-187…CQ]
  • Chabot, R-Ohio, amendment that would eliminate the Market Access Program, which grants corporate welfare to U.S. producers, exporters, private companies and other trade organizations to finance promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products.  In the past, taxpayers have funded reality TV shows in India and wine tasting in Japan. [Failed 98-322 : R 89-142; D 9-180]
  • Brooks, R-Ala., amendment that would terminate the Emerging Markets Program, which promotes exports of U.S. agricultural commodities and products in certain emerging global markets, after Sept. 30, 2013. [Failed 103-322 : R 101-129; D 2-193…CQ]
  • McClintock, R-Calif., amendment that would strike a provision in the bill that would authorize $10 million per year from fiscal 2014 through 2018 for a program to expand domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture programs. [Failed 156-269 : R 155-76; D 1-193…CQ]
  • Huelskamp, R-Kan., amendment that would allow states to create a work activation program that would require able-bodied individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to complete two days of supervised job search at the program site each month. While in the program recipients may not refuse offers of employment or refuse to provide information on employment status without good cause. It would suspend SNAP benefits for individuals who fail to comply with the requirements. It also would repeal the nutrition education and obesity prevention grant program. [Failed 175-250 : R 175-57; D 0-193…CQ]
  • Kind, D-Wis., amendment that would limit federal crop insurance premium subsidies to producers with adjusted gross income of less than $250,000, limit per-person premium subsidies to $50,000, cap crop insurance providers’ reimbursement of administrative and operating expenses in 2013 at $900 million and reduce their rate of return to 12 percent of the retained premium. [Failed 208-217 : R 74-157; D 134-60…CQ]
  • Pitts, R-Pa., amendment that would direct the Agriculture secretary to lower loan rates for domestic sugar cane producers to 18 cents per pound for raw cane sugar for each crop year 2014 through 2018. It would require the Agriculture secretary to revise trade tariffs to lower the sugar stocks-to-use ratio to 15.5 percent. The department would be required to administer marketing allotments to ensure sugar supplies, be authorized to suspend or modify any marketing allotment provision and exercise discretion in administering the import quota to provide for adequate sugar supplies at “reasonable prices.” It also would repeal the sugar-to-ethanol program. [Failed 206-221 : R 137-95; D 69-126]

The Path Forward on the Farm Bill

Thursday, June 20th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

Today, GOP leadership suffered a stunning defeat as 62 Republicans voted against the 5-year farm bill (H.R. 1947), which locks in the record baseline of food stamp spending and creates multiple new agriculture subsidy programs.  A handful of them voted against it because it cut too much spending, and others like Bill Shuster voted no because they are facing potential primary challenges (Shuster voted for the 2008 bill).  But this is a strong showing, as it is a dynamic none of us would have ever predicted several years ago.

Some Republicans are complaining that because of the conservative revolt we will now continue on the status quo with direct farm subsidies.  But they fail to understand that the new price support programs and shallow loss coverage that were created by this bill would have been more expensive and represent worse market distortions than direct subsidies.  It’s better to reauthorize the status quo than to pass a long-term bill that creates even more problems and precludes real reforms for another 5 years.

Other Republicans complain that now we will face the so-called milk cliff.  Pursuant to a silly 1949 act of Congress, every time we fail to renew expiring farm programs, the government must begin imposing Soviet-style price controls on milk by decreasing supplies through massive purchases of milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products.  Under permanent law, the USDA would begin purchasing dairy products at a rate of $38.54 per hundredweight, more than double the current price ($18 per hundredweight).  This market manipulation could double the price of milk, dairy products, and everything else up the food chain.

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The Statue Quo is Eminently Better Than Bad Legislation

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

Earlier today, Speaker Boehner announced that he will bring the farm bill to the floor and personally vote for it.  This is a sharp departure from his previous statements railing against the Soviet-style subsidies and productions quotas for sugar and dairy farming.  Hence, he is caving on one of the few issues for which he has always shown intrepid conviction.

There’s a new platitude that is being propagated by the GOP establishment in defense of odious new legislation or reauthorization of existing bad policies.  They are asserting that passing big government legislation; that passing Democrat priorities is better than the status quo; that action is superior to inaction.  This is the most dangerous, defeatist attitude for a Republican to harbor, and conservatives must make it clear that, especially when in the minority, Republicans must stop bad legislation.  Period.

We’ve already seen this dynamic unfold with the immigration deform bill.  This bill will do to our immigration system and the rule of law what Obamacare is doing to our healthcare system.  Yet, instead of pursuing an aggressive conservative policy strategy on this issue, both the leaders in the Senate and House are saying that we must pass something, irrespective of the merits of the bill.  They are basically saying that another ‘amnesty first, promise of enforcement later’ is superior to doing nothing.  This logic is borderline insanity.

Now Boehner is pursuing the same line of thought with the farm bill.  He is going to bring the farm bill to the floor and call for a conference with the Senate because doing nothing is not an option:

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The Latest on the Farm Bill

Thursday, June 6th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues, News

[Update: The cloture vote on the farm bill passed 75-22, with the help of 22 Republicans.]

Today, the Senate will invoke cloture on the 5-year farm bill, S. 954.  The 1150-page Senate bill costs $955 billion over 10 years and creates a new shallow loss program covering up to 90% of a farmer’s income – on the taxpayer dime.  Roughly 80% of the cost is related to food stamps.  For good measure, this bill contains sugar subsidies, biofuels subsidies, and conservation programs.  This mega-bill was rushed through the committee process and has only been subject to four amendments on the floor.  I guess Reid is agog with enthusiasm to get to the amnesty bill.

The House bill is, more or less, the same thing; it just cuts an extra few billion of the baseline spending for food stamps, while adding more spending to socialist price support programs for Big Ag special interests.  As an added bonus, it contains a Soviet-style milk productions regulatory regime and new taxes on rocks!

Meanwhile, instead of weaning the farmers off government dependency, this bill has created the potential for an entirely new crop subsidy.  Earlier this week, the Senate adopted an amendment from Senator Moran, which would require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to study and develop a crop insurance policy for alfalfa farmers, so they can receive their own carve out.  It’s not like alfalfa farmers can’t take advantage of the current crop insurance program or the new shallow loss program; the special interests always need a personal handout.

Look, we all understand that it’s hard to end 80 years of government intervention in farming overnight, but do we really need to add more programs?

Moving forward, conservatives must work to break up the farm bill. The key element to passing massive farm bills over the years has been the inclusion of food stamps in the package. This allows members from rural and urban districts to “logroll” and trade their votes in exchange for each others’ special interest. The way to break this cycle is by separating the two elements, and demanding that each one stand on its own merit. Rep. Paul Broun is requesting signatories for a letter to Speaker Boehner asking for Food Stamps to be separated out from the House version of the farm bill before it is considered on the floor later this month. Please ask your member of Congress to sign the Broun letter.