Crop prices are skyrocketing, globally and for American farmers. So what's the big debate in Washington today? How much Federal money needs to go to subsidize multi-million dollar earning farmers.
WASHINGTON – House and Senate negotiators late Tuesday scrambled to meet President Bush's demands on a multibillion-dollar farm bill, considering cutting subsidies for wealthy farmers.
Earlier in the day, Bush had renewed his call to reduce such subsidies, saying the "massive, bloated" bill would do little to stem rising food costs. Negotiators met with Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer soon afterward.
That meeting was "sobering," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. He said the Bush administration had a laundry list of demands for the legislation, which lawmakers were hurrying to finish before current farm law expires Friday. The law has been extended several times, and lawmakers have said another one-week extension may be necessary.
Emerging from several hours of meetings, Conrad and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said negotiators would further limit subsidies and cut other spending in response to the administration's demands.
"We moved considerably," said Harkin, though he declined to share specifics and said all of the bill's negotiators had not yet agreed on the cuts.
At issue: Bush wants payments limited for those who make more than $200,000 a year. The House bill limits payments to those suffering farmers who have to struggle by on a paltry $1,000,000 a year. The Senate version caps it at a miserly $750,000. That is your tax money – and mine – that Congress is trying to glad hand away to people who have no need for it.
I rather wish that Bush had come to fiscal responsibility a bit sooner than this. But this obscenity of a farm bill needs to be stopped, even at this late date.
Bonus question: Who really thinks Congress and Washington could come up with the right answer for fixing health care, given this example? If you raised your hand, slap some sense into yourself.