Sunday, November 12, 2006

Keep your eye on this guy...

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is a fiscal conservative with a beef. He is also a rising star in the now minority party. Along with Mike Pence (R-IN) and a handful of others they could form a faction that has significant impact on economic legislations and the new GOP leadership. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal he minces few words about the farm program:
During the 1990s, then-Sen. Phil Gramm accurately described U.S. farm policy as "enough to make a Russian Commissar puke." The Republicans assembled the "Freedom to Farm Act," which, starting in 1996, put U.S. farmers on a glide path toward an end to subsidies. Somewhere between the field and the silo, however, we became mired in the political mud. In 2002, we repealed the Freedom to Farm Act and in its place installed the "Farm Security Act" -- those who value the adage about trading freedom for security can pause and shudder here -- with even more lavish subsidies.

Now, with reauthorization of the Farm Bill on the horizon next year, we have to decide whether we will up the ante with Democrats in terms of red state/blue state politics in the heartland, or whether we believe our own rhetoric about free markets. This debate will have implications larger than the fiscal one. Most notably, it will determine if we are serious about the future of free trade.

Does this mean the ag lobby should be concerned about the outcome of debate over Farm Bill '07? I think not, UNLESS for whatever reason the economy is struggling and interest rates are through the roof.

What it could mean is an agonizing choice for many rural "red" voters whose allegiance to the Republican party on social issues is sacrosanct and who are alarmed by the GOP embracing fiscal discipline.

In short, a lot of farmers could have to choose between gay marriage and LDP's .

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