Republicans Stand Up for Rich Farm OwnersMarch 16, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
When the farm bill comes up for renewal next year, reform-minded lawmakers will get another chance to rein in the billions in subsidies that too often flow to millionaire farm owners in Manhattan who don’t need them. But even with both parties looking to support budget cuts wherever possible these days, reforming the farm bill is going to be an uphill battle.
There has long been rare left-right agreement in Washington that multi-billion dollar federal farm subsidies are generally wasteful, mostly benefit agribusinesses, and should be slashed or eliminated. You’d think this would represent low-hanging fruit for Republican budget hawks looking to make quick cuts in federal spending. But the farm lobby and members of Congress representing rural states wield mighty power in Washington. So it’s little surprise to see Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee urging Budget Chairman Paul Ryan not to make substantial cuts to federal farm programs.
There is however one farm-bill spending item the Republicans do support cutting (picking up from the same article):
Lest those Republicans appear profligate, they have proposed one area for cuts — food stamps.
If Congress accepted President Obama’s proposal to lower the income cap on subsidy eligibility from $1 million in earnings per year to $500,000, they would be saving the federal government $9.7 billion over ten years. If they adopted former President Bush’s proposal of lowering the cap to $200,000, the saving would be even bigger. But working families don’t have extra money to spend on politicians, so Congress will probably cut services for them and continue subsidizing crops that are used to make foods that make them unhealthy.