2/08/2005

"Why Oh Why Are We Ruled By These Fools?"

From Brad DeLong's website:

Ezra Klein bangs his head against the wall:
"I Actually Voted For the Farm Subsidies Before I Voted Against Them":
5/13/2002: President Bush on Monday signed a 10-year, $190 billion farm bill that promises to expand subsidies to growers. 'This bill is generous and will provide a safety net for farmers, and it will do so without encouraging overproduction and depressing prices,' Bush said at a signing ceremony. 'It will allow farmers and ranchers to plan and operate based on market realities, not government dictates.'
2/5/2005: President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and in a major policy shift will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday.
Ezra goes on to say that it is the second Bush that he approves of:
The bill, by the way, is a good one aimed at ending one of America's most disgraceful economic policies. But it really should end the discussion on whether or not Bush is a man of principle. It reverses legislation he supported and signed three years ago in the name of political expediency, and that shouldn't be forgotten.
I'm not so optimistic. I think that what is being started is another game of Dingbat Kabuki. Let me turn the mike over to Mark Schmitt:
The Decembrist: How to Read a Bush Budget -- A Rerun: ...the second type of 'cut' in the budget will be proposals for cuts that will simply never happen and everyone knows it. No one even gets that worked up when the president proposes them. This category usually comprises the largest portion of the cuts in any president's budget. Here the secret is to go after strong clients, clients so strong that everyone knows no one will ever touch them.... [I]f you're OMB, and you need your numbers to add up today, there's no reason not to put it in. It saves a few hundred million on paper, and your job is done. Proposing to cut a defense project whose prime sponsor chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee is another good way to get some savings on paper. And the affected congressman probably doesn't even mind. It gives him a way to announce that he 'saved' the project....
And praktike is of the same mind:
Let the Kabuki Begin!: I am soooo not falling for this: "President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and in a major policy shift will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday. Such limits would help reduce the federal budget deficit and would inject market forces into the farm economy.... The proposal puts Mr. Bush at odds with some of his most ardent supporters in the rural South, including cotton and rice growers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. The new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and more than 100 farm groups are gearing up to fight the White House proposal. The administration's willingness to push the proposal, despite such protests, suggests how tight the new budget will be...."
I would be overjoyed if something like this actually happened, but I'm confident that the welfare-staters in Congress will put them back in. As is, I suspect, the White House.

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