On Friday February 7th, President Obama signed a farm bill that has an estimated cost of $954.6 billion.
The President and other supporters claim the bill will reduce the deficit by $23 billion over the next ten years, though the National Taxpayers Union points out, “it is highly unlikely that taxpayers will reap any so-called ‘savings’ from the almost $1 trillion spending bill.”
Jim Babka of Downsize DC points out, this bill subsidizes Big Ag and Big Food.
For example, the bill provides $800 million in loan guarantees over 10 years to small manufacturers and biorefineries.
Additionally, the bill will:
- Recombine the separate agriculture and nutrition titles passed by the House with five and three year schedules, respectively.
- Eliminate means testing that would reduce federal premium support by 15 percent for recipients with adjusted gross incomes of more than $750,000. This was included in the Senate-passed bill and in a House-passed “sense of the House.”
- Maintain carve-outs and corporate subsidies for everything from catfish to Christmas trees.
- Reinstate SNAP overspending. The House-passed nutrition title laid out $40 billion in savings from SNAP, the conference report calls for a meager $9 billion.
Before it was passed, Jim Babka wrote to Congress, “While the great debate raged about making tiny cuts to the food stamp program vs. even tinier cuts, there are dozens of provisions I KNOW that you haven’t read and don’t understand.”
That’s because this bill was 949 pages long, and received by members of the House just two days before the vote — which all but guaranteed that no member of Congress actually read the bill.
Speaking in support of this bill, Obama said, “Despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers, it’s like a Swiss Army Knife…it multitasks.”
Obama is correct, in that the bill “multitasks” however, he seems to think that is a good thing!
If massive legislation, that no one had time to read, is a good thing; why should Congress pass multiple bills at all? Wouldn’t it be best to simply combine every proposal into one massive bill that is 100,000 pages long and costs an estimated $4 trillion?
I dare say that even the most ardent supporter of government would acknowledge that such a system would be horrible.
A much better solution to the current system of massive bills that cover a wide array of issues is to make Congress limit the scope of bills to a single subject, and to guarantee that members of Congress actually read the bills. The downside to this plan is that to force Congress to do either, would require that Congress actually pass legislation forcing its members to comply.
However, there is an upside — in that both of those bills have been introduced to the Congress.