What Do You Mean You Want To Gore My Ox Too?

Do conservatives and more importantly Congressional conservatives mean it when they say they want to cut spending or do they talk out of both sides of their mouth? I have some doubts ans so does Michael D. Tanner of the CATO Institute.

Last month, when the conservative Republican Study Committee released its plan for $2.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years, one enormous item of wasteful government spending was conspicuously missing — farm subsidies.

Hmmm. Farm subsidies are like double didgit billions of dollars. That’s a lot to miss. Oh, my mistake. Mr. Tanner was being polite.

Perhaps that reflects the fact that 24 of the RSC’s 165 members sit on the House Agriculture Committee, the notorious overseer of farm-welfare programs. Total direct government farm payments to the districts of those 24 representatives alone costs taxpayers more than $1 billion per year. Numerous other RSC members hail from farm states, and therefore have a vested interest in protecting payments to their constituents. For example, RSC chairman Rep. Jim Jordan is not a member of the Agriculture Committee but represents an Ohio district that receives $30 million in direct payments annually.

Apparently not all Republicans received the Tea Party’s message last November.

We are also seeing the usual quadrennial pilgrimage of supposedly fiscally conservative Republican presidential candidates to Iowa, where they swear eternal fealty to farm subsidies generally, but, even worse, to ethanol subsidies in particular. Perhaps the most revolting example of this spectacle was former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s claim that opposition to ethanol subsidies and mandates stems from “big city” folks who just don’t like farmers.

Newt, your such a twit! Why don’t you do America and the Republican Party a favor and retire. Oops! It’s not just Newt.

But Gingrich is hardly alone. Mitt Romney defends farm subsidies as a “national-security issue,” because somehow if farmers don’t get an annual government check, al-Qaeda will hold our food supply hostage. Romney, of course, is also a big backer of ethanol subsidies, as is former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who once keynoted the annual convention of the American Coalition for Ethanol. Sarah Palin? Mike Huckabee? Sorry, they are on the farm-subsidy/ethanol bandwagon too. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels sounded promising: “Farm subsidies in general ought to go away,” he says. But he too can’t break the ethanol addiction. A “national-security issue,” he says.

Damn! This hurts.  Pawlenty, Huckabee, Palin and Mitch Daniels too? We are so screwed. And, what’s this thing about “national security”? I didn’t know ethanol was a national security issue.

As for ethanol, this is a program that cost taxpayers $7.7 billion last year while driving up food and gasoline prices — and that causes more environmental damage than it solves. The national-security argument is far more slogan than reality. Ethanol’s impact on oil imports is minimal, less than 1 percent according to some studies. We could plant subsidized corn on every square inch of available land, and we would not significantly reduce our reliance on imported oil (most of which actually comes from such hostile countries as Canada).

Let me see if I got this right. We are spending $7.7 billon a year of tax payer’s money to drive up food cost and drive up gasoline cost to save 1% on imported oil? That doesn’t make me feel more secure But, I’m sure that  Archer Daniels Midland is smiling all the way to the bank.

Okay. Enough of the snark. Folks, we conservatives and most specially our congressional conservatives can’t just talk the talk. We either stand for reduced spending and governing within the framework of the constitution or we don’t. Tanner puts it this way:

…. since the rise of the Tea Party, many Republicans have rediscovered fealty to the Constitution. Witness the cheers for Judge Vinson’s decision striking down Obamacare on constitutional grounds. One might ask, therefore, where these “constitutional conservatives” find constitutional authority for farm programs?

That is a fair question, don’t you think? Our politicians from the farm states and the Tea Parties in those states need to be talking to the voters and telling them the truth. And the truth is that my ox and your ox and everybody elses ox must be gored and bled out. We simply can’t aford any more government subsidized oxen. Period!

23 thoughts on “What Do You Mean You Want To Gore My Ox Too?

  1. I am afraid that no politician is serious about cutting spending because none of them want to make the tough decisions for fear of losing their re-election bid. We have let this happen over many years and I honestly don’t know if we are ever going to be able to bring this to an end.

  2. I agree with you on many points. Having had several farmers in my family, I offer that it is a more complicated issue. Over half the family farms have gone belly up over the last 30-40 years. Few farmers ever get wealthy. Long days, and iffy weather make for a tough life. Their wealth is in their land, which if they have any luck, turns into land that can be developed. Ethanol subsidies for sure is an issue, and wrong. The bottom line is that the reason we pay so lttile for our food while the world often uses half or more of their income to eat is because our prices up to now have remained overly cheap, often because of subsidies. Without them, the Agri companies will prevail, buying up the family farms then watch out for food prices. This is a worthy topic….! Thanks.

    1. It would be interesting to know how much of our food stuffs come from small farmers and how much comes from the huge and the corporate farms. As the author said, 73% of the subsidies go to the biggest 10% of the agro-industry.

      1. Check out my response at my place. 98percent are family farms. Here is an interesting facttoid.
        The largest portion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget consists of food subsidies, not farm subsidies. Food subsidies will cost taxpayers $79 billion in fiscal 2009 and account for about two-thirds of USDA’s budget. The largest food subsidy programs are food stamps; the school breakfast and lunch programs; and the women, infants, and children (WIC) program. The federal government as a whole has about 26 food and nutrition programs operated by six different agencies.
        The USDA’s food subsidy programs developed out of the need to dispose of farm production deemed surplus under commodity price support programs. Today, food subsidy programs are supported by farm interests, anti-poverty groups, and organizations of state and local program administrators. Farm and food subsidy programs provide both rural and urban legislators reasons to vote for increased USDA funding

  3. These pussies can’t do what they need to do. They will all lose their jobs if they had any balls at all. Sometimes that’s what public servants gotta do. Sometimes the cops get killed.

    I am preparing for the possibility of evacuation.

    I am thinking Belize or Ecuador, by way of Canada. maybe Australia. What sayeth ye Jim? Other than gas, and Chavez (*sinister laugh) is there anything to like down there?

    Brian

    1. I could live just ending the ethanol scam because that is all it is.

      If you want to try the beach scene, I recommend renting first. The place I have is near the beach and I thought that would be cool. It was for a while. But the novelty of the beach wore off after a year or so and then your left with the insupportable heat all the time. The high tropics is all together different. Every day is like spring time and after the sun goes down you need a light jacket. Surprisingly, Brian, I rank Colombia very highly. But Costa Rica, Uruguay and Chile are also high on my list. You can get by without learning the language but it is much more fun when you can communicate at least reasonably well. Forget Venezuela, period!

  4. I just want to be clear… I am with you on the Ethanol scam. My concern is that the family farm has some unique issues that should receive some consideration. My concern is that it is being lumped in with a few of the Big Agri companies who are making out like bandits.

  5. Great post, Jim and some great comments. Bunkerville raises some very important points about food subsidies, compared to farm subsidies.

    You and Steve are not alone in your concerns about ending this. Given the mentality of so many people in this country, I wonder if a politician who is willing to make the hard decisions would be able to last past the next election.

    1. “I wonder if a politician who is willing to make the hard decisions would be able to last past the next election.”

      It always comes down to that, doesn’t it? I would like to think that if the politicians talked directly to their constituents and layed out the cold hard facts, that most voters would understand and accept what must be done. That’s what I would like to think. But the American voters have disappointed me more than once.

  6. My 2 cents worth….

    I agree that the alcohol subsidies are a scam and should be done away with. (I live in Iowa and “know a bit” about farming)

    Farm subsidies, on the other hand…. I don’t want to pay $6 for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread. Eliminating farm subsidies raises food prices dramatically across the board.

    Costa Rica is appealing to me…. 🙂

    Stay safe, my friend.

    1. Thanks, Blue. Between Bunkerville and you, I’m getting quite an education today.

      BTW, I’m having a terrible time trying to make comments at your site. Don’t know if anybody else is having similar problems. When I open the comments everything just stalls. The problem may be on my end.

  7. I don’t think anybody is under the illusion that Republicans are suddenly reformed. That’s where we come in. We’ve made some headway, but there’s still work to do. Old habits are hard to break.

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