Following tight on the heels of Republican capitulation over a roughly 1,000-page, $1.1 Trillion spending agreement is now a 959-page, $956 Billion farm bill likely to receive the same bipartisan green light.
It took this second dose for me to realize that even at the monstrous size of these most-likely-unread bills, they equate to about $1 Billion in spending per page.
Imagine, leafing through a huge, thick book of nothing but Billion-dollar bills. Then realize it’s your money. Then realize someone is taking it away and giving it to someone else.
Just for comparison’s sake, if such a money-book were printed in $20s, it would take about 159 Million volumes of 300 pages each—roughly the catalogue size of the Library Congress, the public libraries of Boston and New York, Harvard, Yale, and every other Ivy League library . . . combined.
You could say Congress has a spending problem. You could say it has a borrowing problem. You could also say this nation has a money-printing problem. All three would be accurate. All three together mean this nation has a theft problem—beginning with every subsidized taker, and reaching to their prevailing representatives in Washington.
By far the bulk of this new bill is food stamps: more than three-fourths of the spending. How does this get into a farm bill? It creates government-subsidized buyers of food, that’s how. It’s a direct subsidy to certain people on the front end, but an indirect subsidy to grocers, manufacturers, farmers—and therefore everyone in between.
But the government also subsidizes overproduction on the supply side as well. The bill includes multiple billions in direct commodity programs, and crop insurance—including the new addition of subsidizing the deductibles farmers pay for their insurance. See the documentary King Corn for more insight into this phenomenon.
But look on the bright side: Congressmen are patting themselves on the back for actually cutting spending with this bill. Surprise! How can they claim this? Because under existing law, the government would have spent a little bit more on these farm programs. This bill actually shaved a slight $16.6 billion off the existing number. While that sounds like a big number, realize it’s only a 1.7 percent reduction in spending—and even that is actually dependent somewhat upon crop prices and insurance claims.
While Republicans may claim some advance here, they actually took quite a loss in the battle over food stamps. That bulk of $756 billion in food stamps was “slashed” a mere $8 billion from the previous number—constituting a mere 1.05 percent reduction. This is not only miserable, it is comparatively less even than the overall bill.
While these guys—Republicans especially—had a perfect opportunity to make a huge dent in spending in these areas, or at least stand on principle, they cut hardly anything. Perhaps too many had subsidies going to their districts.
It’s a hypocritical curse for conservatives. But with the slight spending cuts, they can continue their dual pitches out of each side of their mouths: We cut spending! We support our farmers and the poor! Behold, the bipartisan welfare state. Behold the bipartisan socialism.
As has come to be expected, our fearless leaders in Washington are really fearless in only two departments: display of hubris, and spending other people’s money with abandon.
Here is the roll call for the House. See how your representative voted. Then let them know how you feel about it.