We know that US agriculture policy is badly broken. Washington Post‘s Danielle Paquette gives an unsettling rundown of the scale of the problem.
Farm subsidies have for decades disproportionately benefited richer Americans.
Even if they live in posh Manhattan penthouses. Even if they’re, say, on hit television shows. Chris Soules, this season’s star of “The Bachelor,” for example, has raked in more than $370,000 in farm subsidies since he turned 19 in 2001.
Call it agricultural inequality. The country’s top recipients swept 77 percent of subsidies from 1995 to 2012, said Craig Cox, senior vice president of agriculture policy at the Environmental Working Group.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon propose a rule that could drive that percentage down, Politico reports, starting with tightening the definition of an “actively engaged” farmer. The eligibility for agricultural subsidies remains broad: Anyone who invests time, money or guidance in a farm can qualify for a fat government handout.
In the context of billion-dollar budgets, it’s a sad fact that hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of dollars don’t mean much.
But sometimes, a few thousand dollars can show just how removed from reality bureaucracies really are.
Check out this contract for two (yes, two) lawnmowers.
$39,800 in taxpayer money.
Remember examples like these, small and large, next time big spenders try to claim there’s nowhere to cut.
It’s not much, but it’s a valuable attempt, from both sides, to save money.
A bipartisan Senate bill would reduce the size of the federal government’s budget for buying non-military vehicles by 20 percent.
The measure, which is sponsored by Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Angus King (I-Maine), is known as the Domestic Reduction In Vehicle Expenditure and Lowering Emissions from State Sources (DRIVE LESS) Act.
The legislation’s backers said reducing the federal government’s car budget would save taxpayers about $500 million per year.
Read the rest here.
Because of ongoing headbutting over immigration, the House and Senate continue to struggle over funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who both formerly served in the lower chamber, stressed to the House GOP conference behind closed doors that the Senate can’t get the 60 votes it needs to advance the House-passed DHS funding bill that includes language to reverse President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“They lamented the frustration they’re having getting up to 60 votes. But apparently that is the strategy now with the Democrat minority is to block everything over there,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said after the meeting.
Despite the senators’ appeal to their former colleagues, House Republicans said their conference is sticking with the original strategy.
They told Gardner and Capito to tell Senate GOP leaders to keep trying to move the House-passed bill, Fleming said, despite three failed votes last week.
“Our message back to them … we asked them to take this back, our bill is our bill. This is what we passed. This is what we expect you to pass. So get it done,” Fleming said.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has made a habit of being outspoken on spending and debt. This advocacy, among other issues, has made him a top target for replacement in what’s sure to be a tough election cycle.
“Without a doubt, Ron Johnson is the most vulnerable senator in the country,” said Justin Barasky, communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “He has distinguished himself in a variety of ways, be it his record, his public posturing, his partisan warrior stance he’s used to taking on every issue.”
It’s certainly understandable that other partisan issues can earn the ire of reasonable people. But when it comes out out-of-control spending and debt, on which Senator Johnson has been an outspoken and reasonable advocate for reform, political retribution is disappointing indeed.
Both sides agree that debt is a problem worth addressing. The evidence is pretty clear. Instances where spending reformers on both sides become targets for seeking tough choices remind us why rebalancing those perverse incentives is so important.