A Farm Subsidy Bill by Any Other Name…

Every five years, Congress passes the farm bill – a massive reauthorization of farm subsidies and safety-net programs such as food stamps. And every five years, it passes without fanfare and with little opposition – last time, Congress even overrode President Bush’s veto. This year is shaping up to be different, though. Heritage Action won’t let another big spending bill fly under the radar and, just as we’ve done with the transportation bill (House and Senate), we will let the American people know what should be done and why a particular big-spending bill is bad policy.

Sensing the coming opposition, many are looking for a gimmick to help get this bill passed. In the same vein as the firefighter grants, the COPS program and the Violence Against Women Act, Congress is planning to give the bill a name that will make it difficult to oppose.

According to CQ (sub. req’d), President Obama’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack doesn’t like the name:

“It’s not that he wants a catchier title or something that would produce a clever acronym. The secretary would just like a more politically useful label for the authorizing legislation Congress struggles with every five years.”

The current farm bill, passed back in 2008, was called the Food, Conservation and Energy Act (PL 110-246). Snore! How’s that name going to attract any votes? Secretary Vilsack suggested – and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) obliged – calling the legislation the “Food, Farm and Jobs” bill. Much more catchy! How can anyone vote against food, farms and jobs?

We can already see how the opposition will be characterized: not only will they be anti-farm, but they’ll also be anti-jobs now too.  Proponents of this big-spending boondoggle only added the word “jobs” to make the bill more palatable, as noted by CQ:

“And calling anything a ‘jobs’ bill is a political selling point at a time when unemployment rates remain high.”

Conservatives will have their work cut out for them in trying to educate the American people on the dangers of reauthorizing the massive farm bill, but that is why Heritage Action exists.

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