Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama Proposes Cuts In Farm Programs, Lincoln and Berry Have Cows

Senator Blanche Lincoln and Congressman Marion Berry are two Arkansas legislators who are not happy about the proposed changes to farm programs.


When Blanche Lincoln last ran in 2004 she outspent State Senator Jim Holt at least 40-1. Much of her financial advantage came from out of state donors, especially PACs. Despite the funding mis-match, the vote was something like 55.5 to 44.5. That was far closer than expected, but could have been closer than that. There was one group who largely agreed with Jim Holt on almost every issue but still voted overwhelmingly for Blanche Lincoln. That was the farm vote. Farmers who agreed with Holt on abortion, taxes, judges, guns, and just about everything else were "one issue voters". They felt that Lincoln would do the best job of defending farm programs. Many of these "programs" have the effect of taxing middle and working class citizens in order to make farm program payments to farmers who are far better off than they are. Well, if any of them told their conscience to shut up as they pulled the lever for the pro-abortion Lincoln, maybe they should not have. It now looks like the farm programs are in danger and there may be nothing Lincoln or Congressman Marion Berry can do about it.

President Barack Obama has expanded spending for almost every thing in government, but there is one thing he wants to cut. He wants to eliminate program grants over $250,000 from one program. That would affect thirty-five big farmers in this state. He also wants to phase out payments to farms that have over half a million dollars worth of sales. Twenty-one thousands Arkansas farms got money from the program last year, but we don't know how many of them would be above the cut-off point. It is likely that the large farms will simply break up into smaller formal units to evade the limits unless strict controls are put in place anyway.

The proposed cuts would eliminate $16 billion from the budget over several years- the Treasury can give more than that to AIG in a single day, but at least it is a cut. It may be that Obama is just yanking the chain of the one Democratic constituency that did not vote for him- a little payback if you will. The whole threat to slash these programs when he is saying "yes we can" to every other group who wants your money makes me think it is a Rahm Emanuel-designed ploy. Some of those Southern Democrats, including Lincoln, are a little slow to get behind the socialist agenda of the person who occupies the oval office (the debate on whether he is constitutionally eligible has never really been resolved). This may be a tactic to get them in line. Obama may tell her she will get the money for her millionaire farmers back if she plays ball on the more liberal part of the agenda. If so, Lincoln may make some votes that will get her in hot water with the folks back home.

I find it amusing that normally bland talking politicians can go over the top like a blogger when some group whose support they need gets their government gravy cut off. Lincoln signed a letter saying that Obama's plan "lacks an understanding" about farm issues. Berry huffed and puffed even more. He called the proposal "an assault on production agriculture that was unnecessary and uncalled for". He added that it was "a cheap stunt to pander to the ultra-liberals in our party".

So cutting off government subsidies is "an assault"? If I talk about hitting you over the head with a chair, that is assault. If I talk about cutting the allowance that I give you, its NOT assault. Only in Washington D.C. can a "cheap stunt" be something that SAVES taxpayers 16 billion dollars. Lincoln and Berry both questioned why Obama would suggest this when just last year the Congress hammered out a program for agriculture until 2012. Hey guys, he did tell you he was for "change".

And Berry and southern Democrats may not like the ultra-liberals who have taken over that party, but they empowered them. The Democratic party is a broad "gimmie coalition. The one thing they have in common is that they want someone else to pay for their benefits. The GOP is doing it now too, so it is turning into just an argument over whose friends get the loot. Now, as the money starts to run out, we can expect the members of the broad coalition to start turning on one another.

It may not be time for that yet. Obama indicated a willingness to talk about the changes. He may yet relent and just borrow another 16 billion from the Chinese to give to rich farmers. What we may never hear about is what Lincoln and Berry have to give in exchange for getting that farm money back.


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I also want to lump unions in with the farmers who voted for Lincoln even though they disagreed with her on many issues. She always said she was for their card check legislation when it had no chance of passing, now that it does, TADA! she says she is against it.

She was playing them.

7:26 PM, March 30, 2009  

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