Apparently the budget deal workout last Friday night left some loose end to be negotiated starting yesterday. The Daily Caller has the story:
Washington is busy anointing winners and losers in the 11th hour spending deal struck late Friday to avert government shutdown, but meanwhile the staffs of the House and Senate appropriations committees are busy at work negotiating the fine print.
“The agreement was on overall funding levels and some of the more controversial policy riders,” said Jennifer Hing, spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, “the rest of the policy riders and funding levels for individual programs are still under negotiation.”
The issue is important because the House-passed spending bill, H.R. 1, included scores of policy riders – issues that remain unresolved even as the public views the deal with finality.
The riders of most importance to conservatives did not survive the Friday night negotiations; i.e.,Planned Parenthood defunding and defunding of NPR and CPB. However there were several riders that were apparently left for further negotiations. These were:
– A rider banning funding on President Obama’s numerous “czars.”
– Riders that would rescind unobligated money from Obama’s economic stimulus (promotional material for the deal indicates this was a Republican “win,” but no concrete details are available).
– The exact structure of the Obamacare consolation prize riders. Promotional material indicated that, for instance, Republicans would get a full “audit” of the waivers given to companies and unions but many details are still forthcoming.
– A rider banning foreign aid to Saudi Arabia.
– A rider ending subsidies to mohair farmers.
So far I have been able to find out how these riders fared. The first three are important ones for our side. But please take a look at the last one. Subsidies for mohair farmers. Did you know we had subsidies for mohair farmers? I didn’t. I didn’t even know we had such things as mohair farmers. I remember having a beige mohair blazer a loooooong time ago. In case your not familiar with mohair, here is an explanation from The Wise Keek:
Mohair is a silky textile produced from the hair of the angora goat. It is most often spun into a thread that can be woven, knitted, or crocheted depending upon the application. Mohair is durable, warm, insulating, and light. It also has moisture wicking properties that carry moisture away from the skin of the wearer. The hair of the angora goat has been used to produce textiles for centuries, and the term mohair entered English usage from the Arabic mukhaar, referring to a type of woven head cloth.
So is this a new program or an old program and do we know about it? Well, a quick search turned up some answers in an article written by Johnathan Rauch in 1991. Here is some of what I llearned:
WORLD WAR II veterans will remember their heavy woolen uniforms, a staple of the American fighting man’s wardrobe. During the war, the Pentagon discovered that U.S. wool producers could deliver only about half the wool the military needed. Nowadays people talk about strategic commodities like machine tools and microchips; back then, it was wool. Congress decided that the nation’s wool production needed to be maintained and expanded; it also, not incidentally, wanted to protect domestic producers from the effects of imports. Mohair, a specialty fiber that had no strategic value but had been traditionally viewed as an offshoot of the wool industry, was included in the program. The result was the 1954 National Wool Act.
So this program has been around for a while. But how does it work and what does it cost the taxpayer. Here is how it was according to this 1991 article:
There are almost two million such goats in the United States, 84 per cent of them in Texas, all of them resplendently clad in thick coats of pearly fleece. Until now, you have almost certainly never known of their existence. Thus you probably also had not heard that Angora goats cost the U.S. government about $ 60 million last year.
…. In 1990, if you had clipped your goat, sold the fleece and brought the receipt to your local Agriculture Department office, Uncle Sam would have paid you $ 3.87 for every dollar you earned on the market. Not a bad offer, even by the standards of the frequently generous federal farm programs.
It gets better. Read this:
As farm programs go, this one was a little unusual. Most work by simultaneously jiggering market prices and regulating production, a messy and often self-contradictory process. With wool and $, though, the mechanics have been clean and simple. No supply controls, no manipulation of market prices — just cold, hard cash. Does Mary have a little lamb? Then Mary gets a government check.
Herein lies another quirk that sets the federal wool and mohair program apart. Most farm programs were designed, more or less, to be income stabilizers. Generally speaking, the more the farmer gets per bushel or per pound from the market, the less he gets from the government. The wool and mohair program, on the other hand, was designed to stimulate production and sales, pure and simple.
As a result, the formula is written so that the farmer’s subsidy is a percentage of his market sales. In 1990, for instance, the wool subsidy rate was 127.5 per cent. This means that a farmer who fetched $ 2 for a pound of wool got $ 2.55 from the government (total: $ 4.55), but a farmer in another region, who fetched only $ 1 a pound, got only $ 1.28 (total: $ 2.28). In effect, it is a kind of reverse means-test: The greater your earning power in the marketplace, the bigger your government subsidy check.
This has to take the cake for absurdity. You have to wonder how many other asinine programs are we paying for. I don’t know about you but it really stick in my craw that our boys and girls in Congress could agree to throw this piece of garbage in the trash can of stupid ideas. No, they need to negotiate it. GIVE ME A BREAK!