WASHINGTON, D.C. – The ultimate in pork-barrel politics, the Farm Bill is ripe for final approval this week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the measure is a done deal after it cleared the GOP-controlled House.
Is the 959-page package in the national or taxpayer interest? Analysts from the left and the right give five reasons to say no:
TOO LITTLE, TOO SWEET: While trimming $19 billion from farm subsidies, the bipartisan bill leaves billions more in bloated federal payouts intact.
Citing one example, Mercatus Center at George Mason University economistMatthew Mitchell notes that price supports on sugar will continue to force Americans to pay twice what global consumers pay.
“Taxpayers loan about $1.1 billion to (sugar) producers every year. And who benefits? Last year just three (3) firms received the bulk of these subsidies, each benefiting to the tune of $200 million,” Mitchell reports.
STUCK ON FOOD STAMPS: An $8 billion trim and a few attendant reforms sound good. For example, lottery winners would no longer receive food stamps. But a modest work provision for adult eligibility is optional, and states are left to implement reforms at their discretion.
Just months ago, Republicans fought for tighter rules and deeper cuts in the $85 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that eats up 80 percent of Farm Bill spending.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., says the GOP won concessions to “challenge the status-quo.” In reality, the status-quo prevailed.
Among other things, the House agreed to continue subsidizing enough junk-food additives — including high-fructose corn syrup — to buy every kid under 18 eight 2-liter bottles of soda every year. Drink!