David Rogers in the Politico finds at least one good thing Bush did in the State of the Union address: not spend a single word plugging the big bad farm bill still working its way through Congress. The farm lobby is not pleased:
“I was appalled,” said Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union, who watched the speech from the House gallery.
“The Farm Bill is the single most important piece of legislation for rural communities,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). “We face steep challenges, and we need the support of the White House to pass this legislation.”
It seems to me that it would actually be to the Republican Party's political advantage (in addition, of course, to being sound policy) to phase out farm subsidies. The farm bill acts as a massive incumbent-protection program for farm-state representatives of both parties. All else equal, these are states that would send mostly Republicans to Congress--for how long would North Dakota have an all-Democratic congressional delegation if bringing home the bacon from Washington took a back seat to other issues? (Mind you, I think they're all great--Kent Conrad especially--but I'm under no illusions that it's Conrad's prudent budgetary stewardship that keeps getting him sent back here.) In the short term, some Republican incumbents might suffer--which is partly why the idea is a nonstarter--but in the long run it would presumably benefit the GOP.
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