FROM Mary Kay Thatcher
The Farm Bill: Real Reform or Political Bait and Switch? Every few years, Congress takes up the massive Farm Bill, with members of both parties loading it up with pork barrel spending. The latest version — totaling almost a trillion dollars -- passed the Senate today on a vote of 62 to 36. It now goes to the House. Earlier this week, Senate Democrats defeated Republican amendments for cuts in food stamps. We hear why it's important and what its chances might be.
The Farm Bill: Real Reform or Political Bait and Switch? Every few years, Congress takes up the massive Farm Bill, with members of both parties loading it up with pork barrel spending. After George W. Bush vetoed the Farm Bill in 2008, the Senate over-rode him with 82 out of 100 votes. This year, the bill totals almost a trillion dollars with passage expected before the end of this week. It's the historic epitome of pork barrel spending — but, in this era of partisan gridlock, it's also a sign that the parties can get together if only they want to. Direct payments to farmers are being abolished, but critics complain that new subsidies for crop insurance are really the same thing. Will a last-minute fight over food stamps derail the last major legislation expected to pass before the November election?
Income and Federal Subsidies Up for US Farmers Increased farm subsidies have made strange bedfellows of environmentalists and the Bush Administration. They agree that that the big federal money goes to big agri-business, at the expense of the little guys, not what subsidies were designed to do. Even the Wall Street Journal calls the Farm Bill a "millionaire safety net" which raises taxes to pay off the rich. What does it mean for the environment? What are the prospects of another "bubble" with results like those for dot-coms and housing?