Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 16, 2013/ 12 Tishrei, 5774

Green Acres 94103

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 2012, the federal government paid some $5 billion in direct payments to farmers of wheat, corn, barley, oats, cotton, rice, soybeans, peanuts and other crops — except the recipients cannot all be farmers. According to the Environmental Working Group, 116 of those tillers of the earth reside in San Francisco. For their farming activities, they pocketed $446,302.

How is it, you might ask, that a government saddled with $17 trillion in debt can afford to send checks to more than 18,000 urban farmers? The group's senior vice president for government affairs, Scott Faber, calls the direct payments program "one of the most ridiculous" government programs in recent history, as it pays "farm subsidies to farmers regardless of whether they have suffered a loss or whether they even planted a crop."

Of course, the program was born as a reform. The 1996 Freedom to Farm Act was supposed to wean farmers off New Deal largesse by phasing out agriculture subsidies through direct payments. But old subsidies neither die nor fade away. In 2002 and 2008, Congress extended the program.

Because direct payments are based on a producer's historical output, Uncle Sam sends checks not only to working farmers but also to landowners who don't plant crops. A quarter of direct payments made from 2003 to 2011 — $10.6 billion — went to landowners who didn't grow the crop that sprouted the subsidy or didn't grow any crop at all.

Why not get rid of direct payments? Politicians from both parties say they want to do so. In 2011, President Barack Obama proposed gutting the program as a common-sense reform. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan agrees. "Taxpayers should not finance payments for a business sector that is more than capable of thriving on its own," quoth Ryan. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow proposed eliminating direct payments to meet sequester cuts required in the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Indeed, both the Senate and House passed farm bills this year that eliminated the $5 billion annual boondoggle.

Yet direct payments may live on.

The House, you see, cut direct payments — but in a farm bill that purposely omitted food stamps. The idea was to curb the growth in government assistance for the needy, a program that had doubled in size since Obama took office. Citizens Against Government Waste was part of a conservative coalition that pushed for the split in order to break up "an unholy coalition of urban representatives, who support food stamps, and rural representatives who support commodity programs." Cut the support, was the thinking, to cut the funding.

But an ugly thing happened on the way to fiscal responsibility: While the GOP House eliminated direct payments, it increased other agriculture subsidies — the Senate bill also increased crop insurance subsidies — and left bad policies such as sugar price supports in place.

"They claimed they had done what conservative groups wanted" with the split, lamented the organization's Bill Christian, "and then called it a victory."

Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., has become the poster child for the GOP farm bill. He supported food stamp cuts, I presume on principle. And his would be a highly respectable position except, The New York Times reports, Fincher collected nearly $3.5 million in farm subsidies from 1999 to 2012. That puts House Republicans in favor of welfare, but only for the rich.

"What's even more disgusting than this sort of corporate welfare is that House Republicans can't resist it," the Environmental Working Group's Faber concluded.

What's next? The Senate rightly won't pass the House bill; as in their greed, Republicans handed the Dems a great talking point. So either the House passes something that can contribute toward a compromise or Congress passes a one-year extension of the farm bill — just as it did last year, when members couldn't agree on real reform.

Inside the Beltway, there's only one rule: When it doubt, keep spending.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders' column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2013, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast