Right out of the gate, newly minted Ag Secretary Ed "Who?" Schafer took up The Message:
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, in his first sit-down with reporters since he was confirmed on Monday, said President Bush has told him now is the time to act on farm policy.I don't think this is any accident. Counting the repeated veto threats by Chuck Conner, this makes about about 543 times or so the President has spelled out what are deal-breaking farm bill details.
"The president comes from an agriculture state and he understands agriculture," said Schafer, who met with Bush on Tuesday. "It's time for some good reforms. The president feels real strongly about that."
The White House has threatened to veto the five-year, $286 billion bill if it raises taxes or fails to end crop subsidies to the wealthiest Americans. Negotiators from the House and Senate are poised to write a bill blending legislation from each chamber. [More]
A man who can't get any page one press with a SOTU address doesn't want one his last feeble efforts to govern to be a monumental flip-flop after that many lines in the sand. The administration means it, and the Senate cannot overcome Republican resistance to changes in the stimulus bill, I don't think farm bill proponents will overcome House Republican support of Bush reforms.
It doesn't hurt that the leading Republican candidate is less than enthusiastic about farm payments either.
Interesting glancing thought: As I verified doing my taxes, I think a $200K limit (especially if spouses have to prove significant contributions to add an extra portion) will catch a heck of lot more grain farmers in 2008, if not 2007. Corn at $5 and beans at $12 tends to pile the loot up.