farm bill

7 Reasons Why Kevin McCarthy Shouldn’t Replace Eric Cantor

John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, and Eric Cantor

Republicans were jockeying for position to move up on the ladder before Eric Cantor (R-VA), who lost his primary bid in a shocking upset on Tuesday night, announced that he would step down from his post as House Majority Leader at the end of July.

But with the leadership election scheduled for Thursday, June 19, several names are being kicked around to replace Cantor, among them is current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Yeah, no. That’s a terrible idea.

McCarthy has been in lock-step with Cantor, who endorsed him yesterday, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). He’s essentially the status quo. Nothing will change in the House if McCarthy becomes the next Majority Leader. It would be a politically tone deaf move for House Republicans to choose a carbon copy of Cantor to lead their conference.

And here are some reasons why.

Time for a New Narrative on Food Stamps

Food Stamps (SNAP)

By this time, if you follow politics at all, chances are you’ve heard a lot about the farm bill. Passed Tuesday, this bill represents nearly $1 trillion in new spending, with typical promises for paltry reform over the next decade.

At risk of presumption, the problems with the farm portion are rather obvious. It’s no surprise that 85% of economists from across the ideological spectrum oppose farm subsidies. It seems commonly accepted that the “farm bill” long ago ceased to be a temporary relief for struggling family farmers and has instead become a hefty bonus check for some of the biggest corporate agriculture. For example, the richest farmers get the most subsidies, and just three firms received the most in sugar subsidies last year. And Tuesday’s bill did little to address these issues.

A program so misguided is easy to attack. But unfortunately, the farm portion is a very small part of the “farm” bill. And the other part backs people who want to save the next generation from massive debt into quite a tough corner.

Chatting with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Thomas Massie

“[T]he House and the Senate control the purse strings. It’s the only check that we have besides some oversight on the Executive Branch. And so I’m going to be part of that group that goes into this August recess and goes back home and says, ‘I will not vote for a continuing resolution that funds ObamaCare.’” - Rep. Thomas Massie

The last couple of election cycles have led to several interesting, liberty-minded Republicans being sent to Congress. On Tuesday, United Liberty had a chance to chat with one of those Republicans, Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District.

Elected last year with strong supports from grassroots groups, Massie quickly established his libertarian tendencies by taking strong stands for civil liberties and economic freedom. He’s an approachable guy and very down to Earth.

Along with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Massie fought hard to get a vote last week on an amendment to the defense appropriations bill to defund the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance of American citizens.

Massie offered an inside baseball account of how a vote on the amendment, which was offered by Amash, came to pass in the face of fierce opposition from President Barack Obama, congressional leaders from both parties and the nation’s security apparatus.

House passes Farm Bill without reform, makes subsidies permanent

After a embarrassing defeat last month and despite a veto threat from the White House, House Republican leaders were able to save some face yesterday by passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act), otherwise known as the “Farm Bill.”

The vote was close, 216 to 208, with every Democrat voting against the measure because food stamp funding was separated from the bill for the first time in several decades. Twelve Republicans voted against the measure because they say it spends too much and didn’t offer any real reform.

While separating food stamps from the Farm Bill — which accounted for nearly 79% of the $940 billion measure that the House voted down last month — does substantially bring down, the $202 billion proposal passed yesterday by the Republican-controlled House, according to The Hillcuts less in subsidies than the bill passed by the Senate.

Do House Republicans really want Farm Bill reform?

As much as I never like to question anyone’s intentions, I finally find myself asking this week, do House Republicans really want to reform Washington?

Perhaps it was naïve, but after the defeat of the Farm Bill, I thought hope was in the air for agriculture policy reform. Numerous Republicans had offered strong amendments, many of which were rejected at the onset by the Rules Committee. And a fair number of the remaining amendments were defeated on the floor at the urging of leadership. This egregious flouting of their party’s desire to curb spending pushed members over the edge. Sixty-two fiscally conservative Republicans revolted against the bill, proving to leadership once and for all that, indeed, they are here to actually make changes.

This failure appeared to make leadership desperate, forcing them to take the drastic step they’d previously vowed to avoid – splitting the bill into two portions, one for food assistance and one for agriculture programs. Reform advocates long have tossed around splitting the bill. Their logic is simple: neither portion of the bill is strong enough to stand alone. Nutrition program supporters and farm program enthusiasts need each other to get the bill across the finish line. So for those who find the programs to be bloated, forcing each portion through on its own merit seemed more likely to yield change than the current back-scratching arrangement.

Expect the Farm Bill to cost a lot more than advertised

With pressure in the Senate to pass the Farm Bill this week (they approved cloture this morning) and showmanship killing any consideration of further amendments, things aren’t looking good for reformers. This leaves taxpayers on the hook for an expanded crop insurance program with incredibly few taxpayer protections built in.

The Senate lauds this as progress, claiming $24 billion in savings over ten years. But a simple breakdown makes it clear that these supposed savings will never be realized. Luckily, the American Enterprise Institute has a great infographic presenting the numbers as they are likely to look over the next ten years. Instead of finding $24.4 billion in savings, the AEI graphic shows $31.2 billion of increased spending, which they rightly term a “bait-and-switch” for the taxpayer.

So where do these costs come from? The answer is the Agriculture Risk Coverage provision, a proposed “shallow loss” program that would make up the difference for revenue not covered by crop insurance. The program works with crop insurance to guarantee revenues, basically ensuring farmers 89 percent of their average revenue over the last five years. So if prices fall or your yield decreases, ARC will smooth over the difference.

The Case Against Saxby Chambliss

Taxby

Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.

Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”

“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.

Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.

Denial: Cantor’s political establishment friends can’t grasp that his loss was about cronyism

Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is trying to dismiss the notion that soon-to-be former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost on Tuesday night because of his connections to big business:

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted his group wasn’t involved in the Cantor primary, and said the Chamber has yet to lose in any of the races where it has spent money this year.

“We have lots of allies,” he told Bloomberg Television. “Look, you can try to make this the story of the year, but it’s not going to last very long.”
[…]
But Donohue pushed back against the notion that the Tea Party defeated Cantor.

“The Tea Party had nothing to do with this,” he said.

“They weren’t in, they didn’t put any money in, they didn’t have any people there. It was sort of an attractive professor in a very, very conservative district in Virginia. And everybody was surprised.”

Today in Liberty: Obama disapproval hits 59%, NLRB backs college sports unions

“It’s through no fault of the Internet, because people are not educated on how to use the Internet.” — Harry Reid on why the administration extended Obamacare enrollment

— Obama’s disapproval rating climbs again: Already at a dangerously level, President Obama’s disapproval rating is approaching uncharted territory, nearly hitting 60%. “According to the AP-GFK survey released Wednesday, 59 percent disapprove of Obama’s job performance while 41 percent approve,” The Hill reports. “A similar poll released by the news outlet in January found 45 percent approved of him while 53 percent disapproved.” The rise in disapproval is attributed to his handling of the Ukraine situation, but his agenda is being panned across the board. “Obama gets lowest marks for his handling of the federal budget, immigration and the economy,” the Associated Press explains. “Support for Obama’s education policies, which had been a strong point, dipped into negative territory this month, too.”

— TROLOLOLOLOLOL: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) trolled President Obama, who is visiting the Vatican, with a hilarious early morning tweet.

Rand Paul to Obama

What recovery?: One in five households on food stamps

Amid reports of anemic economic growth and weak jobs numbers, Americans are being told that the economy is in recovery after a severe recession. It’s the same line Americans have heard for the past few years, only many aren’t experiencing it.

Caitlin Burke of the Heritage Foundation brings us a sobering reminder of that, noting that a record number of American households are on food stamps:

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that more than 23 million households—a record 20 percent—are now on food stamps. This is a dramatic increase from15 million households in 2009.

But the problem, however, isn’t limited to still slow economy, though that’s still a prominent concern. The food stamp program is in dire need of reform, including means-testing and work requirements:

This policy—which was put into place in fiscal year 2000 and heavily pushed by the Obama Administration—allows states to completely bypass the asset test for food stamp applicants, meaning there is no limit to the amount of assets a household can have to qualify for food stamps as long as their income is low enough.

 


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