5/14/2008

The Bipartisan Folly of Farm Subsidies

“We need to stand up to the special interests, bring Republicans and Democrats together, and pass the farm bill immediately,” Barack Obama declared last November. It was a weird thing to say, since the farm bill, which subsidizes an arbitrarily chosen section of the economy at the expense of taxpayers and consumers in general, is special-interest legislation by definition.

“The latest version, which President Bush has promised to veto, includes tax breaks for racehorse owners, “marketing aid” for fruit and vegetable growers, research funding for organic farmers, enhanced price supports for domestic sugar producers, increased subsidies for dairy farmers, a $170 million earmark for the salmon industry, and billions of dollars in automatic payments and “permanent disaster assistance” for corn, wheat, cotton, rice, and soybean growers. Take that, special interests!”

“Less than a month ago, the Associated Press reported that “it’s not a good year for a farm bill,” what with surging food prices, record farm income, a tight federal budget, and a resistant president unconcerned about getting re-elected. But in the logrolling culture of Washington, the solution to wasteful, unjustified spending is more wasteful, unjustified spending.”

Jacob Sullum takes on welfare for rich farmers [...]

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