Why Don’t Republicans Want to Eliminate Farm Subsidies?

By Chuck Rogér

Congressional Republicans claim that they want to cut spending. House Speaker John Boehner says,

We’re listening to the people who sent us here to cut spending so we can grow our economy. As I’ve said from the beginning, our goal is to cut spending, not shut down the government.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declares,

…Republicans are determined to do our part… That’s why we’ve been fighting to cut spending in the near-term and that’s why we’ll soon be proposing a balanced budget Amendment.

Very well then.

Maybe Messrs. Boehner and McConnell should have a discussion with fourteen Republican representatives and three Republican senators (list below) who seem content to have taken home $5.3 million in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009.

When asked if he would “consider ending farm subsidies, ethanol subsidies and other pet projects as part of [his] fiscal trimming,” John Boehner answered simply, “Yes.”

The Cato Institute calls farm subsidies “environmentally destructive corporate welfare, with more than 70 percent of aid going to the largest 10 percent of agribusinesses.” Cato calculates that eliminating the program would save $20 billion or more each year.

Yet there have been no serious attempts to scale back farm subsidies in GOP spending reductions until the minor cuts contained in Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal. Was the, um, “oversight” related to Republicans’ millions in subsidy payments?

At a $20 billion annual run rate, cutting the federal farm subsidy program would save an amount that pales in comparison to entitlement cuts which must be made to meaningfully reduce the skyrocketing (currently $14.3 trillion) national debt. But magnitude is not what’s important in the matter of farm subsidies. Simply put, principle is at stake.

The GOP cannot reasonably expect to earn increasing voter trust with House and Senate Republicans personally profiting from discretionary spending that leading Republicans claim to want to reduce. With such duplicitous behavior, Republicans run the risk of giving voters good reason to turn back to the Democrat party, which together with a Democrat-loving media, will do everything possible to sweep those voters right back into the Democrat camp by Election Day 2012.

Congress Members Benefiting from Farm Subsidies, 1995 – 2009
(source: Environmental Working Group)

House

Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.)
Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa)
John Campbell (R-Calif.)
Jim Costa (D-Calif.)
Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)
Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)
Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Timothy Huelskamp (R-Kansas)
John Kline (R-Minn.)
Tom Latham (R-Iowa)
Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)
Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas)
Kristi Noem (R-S.D.)
Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)
Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.)
Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)
Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)

Senate

Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

2 Responses to “Why Don’t Republicans Want to Eliminate Farm Subsidies?”

  1. Great question … I was surprised to see John Kline on the list … for years his Personal Disclosure filing failed to list his wife’s family farm, but it showed up last year. But the one that appears to be missing is Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) who has recieved farm subsidies for years.

  2. Kathleen Larkin says:

    I think it is a shame for these representing this country to be voting in farm subsidies so they can take advantage of them. Farming is a small business, like any other. The media treats them as sacred. When did you ever hear a talk show host on tv or radio, Fox News discuss how much is spent on farm subsidies. And, the crop insurance. Do many know that the farmer pays 30% of the bill and taxpayers pay 70% so they can have crop insurance. And, the corn crop was poor, they collect crop insurance, cut the corn, make sileage and keep the sileage. What a sweet deal! This is outrageous. My children get up very early, go to jobs that they don’t enjoy, pay for this wonderful free life the farmers live. Riding around in huge farm equipment. You know they don’t pay sales tax for this. What other small business has this? As far as the food stamps, it costs a small fraction for that program compared to farmers. And, they still get the big buck for their crops and are all worried about some little kid getting a free breakfast. When will anyone speak out?

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