Sunday, August 12, 2012

Better let your breath out...  

Like many observers, the addition of fiscal hawk Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket strikes me as bad news for those hoping for a farm bill anywhere close to the dream of a full safety hammock net:
If the president is for it, House leaders are going to be even more entrenched against it. Moreover, passing a farm bill would highlight lawmakers approving a measure that the Republican vice presidential nominee has strongly criticized in the past and unsuccessfully tried to change by demanding further program cuts. They simply can't pass a bill that would appear to be an affront to one of their own now running on the presidential ticket.
In his budget plan, "The Path to Prosperity," Ryan stated that lawmakers should reduce or eliminate direct payments, which was considered a foregone conclusion. But, like President Obama's budget proposal, Ryan also sought in his plan to "reform the open-ended nature of the government support for crop insurance, so that agricultural producers assume the same kind of responsibility for managing risk that other businesses do."
The "record-breaking prosperity of American farmers and farm communities" demand re-examining federal farm programs "to ensure that taxpayers aren't funding support for a sector that is more than capable of thriving on its own," Ryan stated. [More]

Chris has this nailed, I think. The first quoted sentence is the important one. I can see Obama moving from farm indifference to admiration for a new political chip by taking up the farm bill cause in stark contrast to Ryan's longstanding opposition. And Republicans simply cannot even hint at agreeing with this president on anything, at least not before the election is over.

It's not like the measure was sailing along anyway, and with increasing stridency from the Tea Party and right-wing think tanks, all bets are off on all parts of the bill.

In fact, my strongest inclination is that a combination of whopping crop insurance payouts by the government, budget cuts, and chickens like ethanol (which has always been controversial) coming home to roost, the next farm program could be so meager most farmers will opt out due to a very low benefit/hassle ratio.

In the process, we may find ourselves oddly happier and more in control of our farms and futures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Preach! It's about time...