Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wealthfare Wednesday - On a Wednesday

In our last "Wealthfare Wednesday," two Saturdays ago, we took a look at farm subsidies, with the news hook being Jeff Flake's committee committing to some cuts in direct payments. This led commentators on the left and the right to expect some such cuts to be forthcoming. This WaPo piece primed the pump, following a freshman Republican around as he attempted to talk some sense:
"If every single member of Congress came in and said, ‘I’m going to defend my turf,’ you’d have the same [debt problem] — and the people here, they get that.”
Well, if by "the people here," he meant House Republicans,  then, to paraphrase Albus Dumbledore, that was optimistic to the point of foolishness.

As I suggested in our last discussion, it was more likely that the GOP would end up cutting subsidies for poor families than for rich agribusiness firms. Actually, it's more likely that the GOP would pass a resolution to put Jane Fonda on the $50 bill than that they would cut subsidies for rich agribusiness firms.

So first, they failed to cut ethanol subsidies, despite repeated harrumphing about the debt burden we're passing on to our grandchildren. As pointed out (back when this cost $1 billion a year instead of $5 billion) in Take the Rich Off Welfare, the production of a gallon of ethanol takes up more energy than that gallon produces when burned in your gas tank; there's an 11 to 16% net energy loss. So no wonder it has to be subsidized.

And no wonder the House GOP can't quite summon up the gumption to save our grandchildren from the crippling debt incurred by padding the bottom line of Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, etc. From the NYT's (potential) pay pixels this morning:
Republicans have quietly maneuvered to prevent a House spending bill from chipping away at federal farm subsidies, instead forging ahead with much larger cuts to domestic and international food aid. 
The GOP move will probably prevent up to $167 million in cuts in direct payments to farmers, including some of the nation's wealthiest. The maneuver, along with the Senate's refusal Tuesday to end a $5 billion annual tax subsidy for ethanol-gasoline blends, illustrates just how difficult it will be for Congress to come up with even a fraction of the trillions in budget savings over the next decade that Republicans have promised.
Well, there's difficult and there's difficult. Besides cutting food subsidies for poor families, the GOP also plans to sweeten the pot for their AgBiz clients by cutting the FDA's food safety budget. There's a fraction of a trillion in savings right there. How difficult can it be?

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