Red State Socialism 2
This week, the House of Representatives takes up their version of the Farm Bill. The House bill spends $940 billion over five years, compared to the $955 billion Senate bill that passed the Senate last week. Like the Senate bill, the House bill is full of subsidies for large agribusiness and well-to-do farmers. Many of the programs in the Farm Bill are also disguised subsidies to large financial institutions like Well Fargo, who benefit from selling taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance.
As I previously pointed out, many fiscal conservatives will vote for this bill because the subsidies go to constituents in “Red States” who vote Republican. Baylen J. Linnekin, President of Keep Food Legal, writing in Reason magazine, has some interesting facts on why otherwise-conservative Republicans support farm subsidies:
As I noted in an earlier column, one of several I’ve written on the Farm Bill, our early research indicates that GOP-dominated states and GOP districts in Democrat-dominated states appear to “grab an outsized share of subsidies, and that this share represents a huge overall percentage of USDA subsidy payments.”
Our report, tentatively titled Compromising the Farm: The Politics of Farm Subsidies, will include in its findings that an overwhelming majority of congressional districts receiving direct farm payment subsidies in recent years were represented by GOP congressmen.
For example, our data indicates that 75 percent of the 30 most subsidized congressional districts in 2012 were led by GOP representatives.
While they do not go as far as Campaign for Liberty and call for elimination of all unconstitutional farm programs, Daren Basket of the Heritage Foundation provides a good summary of the many of the problems with the bill, including the core problem with federal agricultural programs:
There’s also a much bigger problem with the House farm bill. With its price supports, import quotas and supply restrictions, it’s an exercise in central planning. These sorts of policies were hip in 1933 — and have failed every year since. For Congress to repeat the mistakes of the past would be inexcusable. And, of course, no legislator who embraces this bill can claim to be for free markets and limited government — at least, not with a straight face.