Estimated Effects on Direct Spending and Revenues for Health Care Programs of Proposals in the President’s 2014 Budget
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Estimates of Proposals
Estimates of Proposals
Rear View Farm Bill
Volume XVIII No. 20: May 17, 2013
This week’s Wastebasket is part one of two. Stay tuned next week for more about how Washington can save taxpayer dollars through the federal crop insurance program.
Sometimes it appears common sense and reality can’t seem to penetrate the marble lined walls of the Capitol. The most recent occurrence for this financially costly phenomenon occurred this week as both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees passed their versions of the farm bill. Instead of debating where to trim the nearly $1 trillion price tag of our current farm policies, members dragged their feet, loaded up on special interest giveaways, and actually made the draft bills even worse.
As soon as they’d released their bills, Committee members patted themselves on the back for saving taxpayer dollars. But much of the claimed savings–$24 billion in the Senate, $40 billion in the House–is fake. While actively working to undo the automatic across the board cuts taking place, they tooted their horns for $6 billion already baked in by these cuts. Even worse, both bills squander a potential $50 billion in savings from ending direct payments, a “temporary” program created in 1996, on new open-ended income entitlement programs. Everyone from President Obama to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) agrees direct payments should end. But Ag Committee members just can’t let go of the cash. And, all promises aside, the last two farm bills cost more than $400 billion than they were supposed to cost when passed. There’s no reason to think this one’s any different.
Opposing common sense savings is bad enough, but the bills also revive zombie policies. Miss the Cold War debate between the free market and command-and-control economies? Well both committees decided to revive it by having the government guarantee prices, leading former Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) to label the legislation as “not a reform bill [but] a rear-view mirror bill.” Since having Congress set crop prices sounds a little too non-capitalistic, they’re white-washed with family-friendly names such as Price Loss Coverage (PLC) by the House and Adverse Market Payments (AMP) by the Senate. Back to those direct payments. Turns out they aren’t actually dead. The ostensibly conservative House actually keeps them on life support for two more years, but just for upland cotton. They promise. Just two more years, then they’ll go clean.
To top it off the committees went one step further and actually removed some of the few taxpayer friendly provisions that were in the bills they debated last year. By fiat the committee deleted a measure that modestly reduced insurance subsidies to any farm business with more than $750,000 in income, after taking into account write-offs and other adjustments. But even this small step in the right direction, which passed the Senate 66-33, was too much for the Senate Agriculture Committee which stripped it without debate. Another amendment to eliminate a duplicative office for catfish inspection—there’s one in both the FDA and the USDA—so noncontroversial it was adopted by voice vote last year, was stripped in the Senate after backroom bargaining between the Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the new minority Ranking Member Thad Cochran of Mississippi. His state just so happens to produce over half of the catfish in the U.S. and is in an ongoing trade war with foreign catfish producers.
It’s a time honored tradition in Washington to do as little as possible, and look good while [not] doing it. But some traditions need to be put to pasture. With $17 trillion in debt, the agriculture economy experiencing near record profits, and budget cuts being implemented, it’s time for agricultural special interests to wake up to fiscal reality and pull their weight. When these bills move to the House and Senate floors, taxpayers need fiscal champions to step up and demand real savings in Washington’s bloated agriculture policy. Next week we’ll show you just how to do so in crop insurance.
Help us prepare for budget season and double your impact!
Going on at Taxpayer.net This Week
DOE Loan Guarantees: Overview, Risks, and More
2013 House and Senate Farm Bills Stack on More Subsidies
Support Bipartisan Crop Insurance Reform Legislation
Paltry Savings Proposed in 2013 House and Senate Farm Bills
Fiscal Conservatives Letter on Farm Policy: The "Terrible Twelve"
Letter to the Senate: Oppose Fiscally Irresponsible Amendments to S. 601, Water Resources Development Act of 2013
Water Waste: Cut Costly Provisions from Water Resources Development Act
Taxpayers for Common Sense appeared throughout the media this past week. Check them all out in the In the News section of our website.
Quote of the Week
"This is not a reform bill. This is a rearview mirror bill"
- Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who singled out the target prices set for rice and peanuts as more than equal to the cost of production, “essentially guaranteeing that a farmer profits if yields are average or above average.”(Politico)
Got a quote or article about wasteful spending you think should be featured in the wastebasket? Send us your ideas and comments
From: Weekly Wastebasket www.taxpayer.net
As posted on the Web site of the House Committee on Agriculture on May 10, 2013.
“What do you expect when you target the President?” This is what an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent allegedly said to the head of a conservative organization that was being audited after calling for the impeachment of then-President Clinton. Recent revelations that IRS agents gave “special scrutiny” to organizations opposed to the current administration’s policies suggest that many in the IRS still believe harassing the President’s opponents is part of their job.
Full article here: http://tinyurl.com/an4lxv6
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Posted by Alan Gardner
May 14, 2013
The pro-gun news web site Ammoland did a bit of Photoshopping recently to recreate a Mike Peters anti-NRA editorial cartoon into one with the exact opposite message and posted it on Facebook.
Mike Peters: original
And the blatant rework:
Mike Peters: reworked