The Farm Bill Congress just passed Tuesday is a monument to Washington dysfunction, and an insult to taxpayers, consumers, and citizens.
Defenders of this bill say it is a “compromise.” But that is only half true. This thousand-page, trillion-dollar mess is less a compromise between House Republicans and Senate Democrats than it is collusion between both parties against the American people, to benefit special interests at the expense of the national interest.
This was the year the Farm Bill was supposed to be different. This was supposed to be the year when we would finally split the bill into its logical, component pieces, and reformed them one at a time.
This was the year we might have strengthened the Food Stamps program with work requirements. This was the year we might have made sure wealthy Americans were no longer eligible for Food Stamps.
But those reforms aren’t in the bill we passed.
In fact, many of the few improvements the House and Senate initially tried to include were removed during the secret conference committee process. It is a lost opportunity all around.
The Farm Bill continues a troubling trend in Washington: using raw political power to twist public policy against the American people, to profit political and corporate insiders.
For instance, under this legislation, the federal government will continue to force taxpayers to subsidize sugar companies, both through the tax code and at the grocery store.
This bill maintains the so-called “Dairy Cliff,” which creates an artificial crisis each time Congress considers a Farm Bill, a crisis used to avoid genuine oversight and extract campaign contributions for incumbent politicians.
Under this Farm Bill, small, independent Christmas tree farmers will now be required to pay a special tax to a government-created organization controlled by larger, corporate producers. These costs will of course be passed on to working families, and so every December, Washington will in effect rob the Cratchits to pay Mr. Scrooge and his lobbyists.
Then there is the Farm Bill’s most offensive feature: its bullying, disenfranchising shakedown of the American west.