... massive tax-payer financed 'agricultural' subsidies to millionaires and billionaires with vanity farms. Like the tea party leadership. Take it away, Yasha Levine:
If tea party candidates were serious about stopping runaway spending and bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington, they would have to address one of the most egregious wastes of taxpayer dollars: federal farm subsidies. These handouts have become little more than taxpayer robbery, sending billions of dollars every year to wealthy “farmers,” even some who do not farm at all. It is not an opportunity the tea party is willing to take.
“Washington paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009, but to characterize the programs as either a ‘big government’ bailout or another form of welfare would be manifestly unfair—to bailouts and welfare,” says Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog that tracks federal farm subsidies. “After all, with bailouts taxpayers usually get their money back (often with interest), while welfare recipients are subjected to harsh means-testing, time-limited benefits, and a work requirement. ...”
Not so with farm subsidies. Forget about helping struggling farmers—this taxpayer-funded gravy train is skewed primarily toward the rich, paying out billions to “McRanches” and to businesses like Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company, which got $6.5 million over four years to not farm its land.
Let's peruse a short list of anti-welfare, anti-bailout tea party representatives and candidates that are gorging themselves at the federal government ag teat:
|Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN Representative)||$251,973||"The government spent its wad by April 26. Every dime government spends after April 26 throughout the rest of this fiscal year is borrowed money."|
|Stephen Fincher (Tenn Senate candidate)||$3.2 million since 1995||“stop runaway spending in Washington that is bankrupting America’s children and grandchildren”|
|Kristi Noem (ND House candidate)||$3.1 million since 1995||"a voice in Congress that will work to reduce wasteful spending and offer a plan for reducing our national debt."|
|Joe Miller (AK Senate Candidate)||$1000 /yr for land in Kansas||"The unemployment compensation benefits... it’s not constitutionally authorized"|
That's not to say that agricultural subsidies cannot have an important role in preserving farm land and promoting stewardship—when it started. By now, it's basically become a welfare program for the ultra wealthy and corporations that dominate agriculture in the US. Shouldn't we end it?