Last week, we raised the alarm about the bloated “Farm Bill” that passed the Senate over conservative opposition, noting it looked like it was greased to sail through the House.
Some conservatives saw it as a good sign that House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested that the GOP should hit the “pause button” on the Farm Bill. The bad news is the "pause" is as much about how and where to spend more as it is about conservative objections to the bill.
To us, it is clear that unless conservatives start to raise the roof -- while everyone is distracted by the drama at the Supreme Court -- Congress plans to keep spending on the Farm Bill.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, a solid conservative on most other issues, has praised the “bipartisan” Senate bill and at one time planned to have his committee start voting on the House version of the bill on July 11 -- and it looks like nothing has changed there.
Lucas has said he wants to cut a mere $10 billion out of a bill that will cost almost $1 trillion over ten years, not only is this a betrayal of Republican pledges to make serious spending reforms, it actually creates new government programs to implement some of the so-called reforms.
In the Senate bill, Midwestern corn and soybean growers and Southern cotton growers actually won new entitlement programs that will have taxpayers cover the cost of small dips in their incomes that most businesses routinely weather without aid, and Lucas has no plans to change those additions to the already bloated federal farm subsidy program.
We’re not going to get into the hypocrisy of the class warfare argument that if the Farm Bill was means-tested, large corporate farms and wealthy individuals could be barred from subsidy programs, thereby reducing costs – subsidies are a bad idea whether they go to large corporate farms or to one farmer and his mule.
But then again, as writers at the CATO Institute observed, the politics of farm subsidies are laced with hypocrisy.
Nowhere is that hypocrisy greater than among alleged Republican fiscal conservatives in the House who have consistently joined Democrats to buy votes with taxpayer money and preserve New Deal-era Farm Bill pork for their Districts.
It seems the establishment GOP’s Capitol Hill insiders never learn. Five years ago, some 100 House Republicans joined Democrats to override one of President George W. Bush’s few vetoes of a spending bill and make another big spending Farm Bill law. By our count a good many of those Republicans are no longer in the House, and House Republicans suffered a net loss of 21 seats in the 2008 congressional elections.
In 2010, conservatives won an historic victory by running against pork and subsidies. If they want to keep those gains, they must hold to those conservative principles and defeat this disastrous Farm Bill.