Tag Archives: Farm Subsidies

A serious look at Jon Huntsman?

Many candidates have had their moment in the spotlight and found inadequate: Bachman, Perry, Cain. Politicos and activists are waiting for Gingrich to implode and be the next former not-Romney frontrunner. But Jon Huntsman has not yet had his moment, and he should. He has both the qualifications and demeanor to be president, is likable to the political center, and has conservative credentials that display both his reasonableness and his consistency, something Romney lacks. Will he get that look? Let us hope so.

George Will discusses Huntsman’s conservative credentials.

Jon Huntsman inexplicably chose to debut as the Republican for people who rather dislike Republicans, but his program is the most conservative. He endorses Paul Ryan’s budget and entitlement reforms. (Gingrich denounced Ryan’s Medicare reform as “right-wing social engineering.”) Huntsman would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Gingrich’s benefactor). Huntsman would end double taxation on investment by eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends. (Romney would eliminate them only for people earning less than $200,000, who currently pay just 9.3 percent of them.) Huntsman’s thorough opposition to corporate welfare includes farm subsidies. (Romney has justified them as national security measures — food security, somehow threatened. Gingrich says opponents of ethanol subsidies are “big-city” people hostile to farmers.) Huntsman considers No Child Left Behind, the semi-nationalization of primary and secondary education, “an unmitigated disaster.” (Romney and Gingrich support it. Gingrich has endorsed a national curriculum.) Between Ron Paul’s isolationism and the faintly variant bellicosities of the other six candidates stands Huntsman’s conservative foreign policy, skeptically nuanced about America’s need or ability to control many distant developments.

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Filed under Election 2012

Food Follies

BY ANY reasonable measure, the current system of federal support for agricultural is a scandalous misuse of taxpayer dollars. In fiscal 2010, the federal government spent about $5.1 billion on payments to commodity producers — regardless of need — and another $13 billion on “counter-cyclical” aid, heavily subsidized crop insurance and “disaster” programs. Most recipients were far from poor. The payments distort markets and antagonize our trading partners while encouraging wasteful farming.

If there were ever a time to eliminate them for good, now would be it. Farm income, buoyed by high prices and strong exports, is projected at a record $137 billion for fiscal 2011. Meanwhile, the country faces a dire, long-term deficit. Reflecting these new realities, the budget drafted by House Republicans last spring called for $30 billion in cuts in the next 10 years; last month President Obama proposed $33 billion in net savings to the House-Senate budget supercommittee.

Yet there are signs the political will may be fading.

Of course there are.

There remains no “daunting” challenge faced by U.S. agriculture and there never has been a compelling economic argument for farm subsidies. Like so much beltway rhetoric, it is political speak without roots in economic reality. These subsidies should have been cut from the budget yesterday. Unfortunately, unless Washington, especially the Democrats, is serious about cutting wasteful spending, they are probably here to stay.

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Filed under Domestic Politics, Economics

Don’t Tax the Rich…

before you at least stop subsidizing them. Lawmakers are currently planning to cut farm subsidies, and then “in the same breath”, are arguing to send those savings right back to the farmers.

American farm subsidies are a shame and a disgrace.  According to the Times report, Farm households earn substantially more than other Americans; large farmers, who get the most from subsidy programs, make more than $200,000 a year.

If senators can’t bring themselves to slash programs like these, and are dishonest enough to try to cover their tracks, there are a lot of incumbents in both parties who need to be sent home in disgrace.

These subsidies have been buying corruption, dependency and obesity since the New Deal. If our lawmakers had even minimal traces of principle and economic literacy such farm programs would have gone away long ago. Those programs are here to stay.

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Filed under Economics, Economy