The splashy headlines in the MSM all talk about how the House Freedom Caucus killed the farm bill in the House today since those members demanded the lawmakers vote on immigration legislation first.
But it’s a good thing this bill died because of the non-sexy components the MSM won’t touch. The lawmakers filled the bill with so much pork that it’d shock anyone that agriculture was the main subject.
No Conservative Should Have Supported This Bill
The GOP controls Washington, right? The party of fiscal responsibility…supposedly. This bill gave the government authorization to spend $390 billion on agriculture “for the next five years.” That’s a $3.2 billion increase and $900 billion for ten years.
Wait. It gets better!!
EIGHTY PERCENT of the spending went to…the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Food Stamps. Reason reported that “conservation programs, subsidized crop insurance, and price supports” received the other 20%.
Such fiscal responsibility from the GOP:
Though both Congress and the White House are controlled by supposedly fiscally conservative Republicans, the 2018 farm bill makes few cuts to programs, and it piles on additional regulations for the ones already in place.
“Republicans are giving a big signal to their voting base that is worried about big government and deficits not to turn out for the election,” says Chris Edwards, a tax policy expert at the Cato Institute. “I have read no good reason why we subsidize farmers at all.”
This farm bill is loaded with corporate welfare and subsidies. It’s a big-government, anti-market swamp creature that puts special interests ahead of the American people. Every conservative should oppose it. https://t.co/FOpHrkNCKj
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2018
Farm Bureau chief Zippy Duvall happily pushed for the bill since “the farm economy is ‘teetering on a knife’s edge'” and the money “will assist farmers and ranchers battered by commodity prices that often do not cover the costs of production.”
Okay great. So why the protection for farmers:
“Farming is no more risky than any other industry,” Edwards tells Reason. “Sure, there are price fluctuations, but so is there in oil drilling in Texas, the gold mining business, or any mineral business.” Edwards notes that farms are far less likely to go bankrupt than other enterprises. Some 2.4 farms per 10,000 declared bankruptcy in 2017, compared to a rate of 8 per 10,000 for U.S. businesses in general.
And most of the bill’s subsidies will not go to small, struggling farms, but rather to the largest and wealthiest agribusinesses.
DING DING DING! Those farm subsidy recipients in the top 1% received “an average payout of $116,501” while a “median farmer received a more modest $2,479.”
The GOP had to bring in others for support, which means pork. Pile on the food stamps for the Democrats and conservation money for the environmentalists.
Immigration Killed the Bill, Not Fiscal Conservative Attitudes
I would LOVE to say the bill died because some in the GOP remembered they belong to a party that hates out of control spending.
Nope. The House Freedom Caucus held the bill hostage because the members wanted to “vote on a conservative immigration bill” before the farm bill. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) promised the House would vote on said bill, but not until June. Politico reported before the vote:
Tensions over the farm bill escalated Thursday afternoon when Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows announced that his three-dozen members would not support the measure. In return for their vote, the North Carolinian said they’d need a vote on a bill crafted by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte that extends Dreamers’ legal status for a host of conservative immigration policies.
“At this point there is no deal to be made,” Meadows said exiting an hour-long Freedom Caucus powwow. “The vast majority of our members believe we should have a vote on immigration before the farm bill.”
He added: “At this point there’s not enough votes to pass the farm bill.”
It turns out the GOP needed all Republicans on board because, despite the sweet treats in the bill, Democrats balked at the “stricter work requirements” for SNAP benefits.
Meadows said that “at this point we just really need to deal with immigration in an effective way.”
The Senate would have killed this bill even if it did pass the House. The GOP controls that chamber by one seat, which means the bill has to have support from both parties.
Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts insists the chamber will not make drastic changes to SNAP because they need Democratic support. The Senate hopes to have its own bill in June.
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