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Farm Bill Delay Shows Pathological GOP Partisanship, Noem Impotence

While Mr. Powers makes himself look busy posting video of Kristi Noem doing what she said she didn't go to Washington to do, farmers eagerly await our Congresswoman's delivery of real legislation, the 2012 Farm Bill. My friends at SD Dems HQ remind me that, while I was way, Mr. Montgomery wrote an interesting piece saying the farm bill is Rep. Noem's "first huge legislative moment":

If the farm bill passes, she can claim it as a legitimate triumph. If it goes down in this Congress' increasingly typical dysfunction, she won't be able to dodge the blame.

...Issues like this are why Noem said being on the House Republican leadership team as a representative of freshmen Republicans was a good thing — to bring a South Dakota perspective to leadership deliberations.

Noem says she's had "many" conversations with Boehner and a few with Majority Leader Eric Cantor on the farm bill, urging them to bring it to a vote.

So far, nothing [emphasis in original; David Montgomery, "On the Farm Bill, It's Noem's Turn," Political Smokeout, 2012.07.20].

Rep. Noem got 75+ colleagues, GOP and Dem, to sign a letter to the House leadership telling them to bring the farm bill to a vote. As of this afternoon, this letter hasn't budged Speaker Boehner, whose obstruction of the budget-cutting farm bill in the middle of a drought (hey, how about that tiny little sprinkle we had this morning?) is unprecedented:

Whatever its flaws, the bill promises $35 billion in 10-year savings from exactly the type of mandatory spending that Congress promised to tackle in last summer's debt accord. But rather than disrupt its political messaging, the GOP would put it all at risk by delaying action until after the November elections.

Never before in modern times has a farm bill reported from the House Agriculture Committee been so blocked. POLITICO looked back at 50 years of farm bills and found nothing like this. There have been long debates, often torturous negotiations with the Senate and a famous meltdown in 1995 when the House Agriculture Committee couldn't produce a bill. But no House farm bill, once out of committee, has been kept off the floor while its deadline passes [David Rogers, "Congress Delays Farm Bill as Drought Spreads," Politico, 2012.07.23].

This obstructionism is fine with hard-right conservatives like Daniel Horowitz, who says Rep. Noem is supporting "Soviet-style intervention" in the agriculture industry:

Put simply, the farm bill is an anathema to free enterprise, limited government, and individual responsibility. The House version (H.R. 6083) authorizes $957 billion in spending over 10 years, 80% of which will go towards food stamps. Despite erroneous claims in the media regarding severe cuts to food stamps, this bill actually consummates the Obama-era baseline into our entitlement empire forever.

Furthermore, this bill adds an additional 3 crop insurance and price support programs that distort the market, encourage risky behavior, protect parochial interests, and are tendentious towards large farms. This bill also continues the egregious coddling of rich sugar farmers and the dairy supply regulations that you so aptly referred to as "Soviet style" [Daniel Horowitz, "Mr. Speaker, Tear up This Farm Bill," RedState, 2012.07.19].

There is the faint possibility that, given the harsh critiques of this farm bill from left and right, Rep. Noem is pushing a tolerable compromise. But whatever the merits of the bill, if Rep. Noem says she wants it, but then can't marshal her influence as freshman liaison to move the Speaker and her colleagues toward a vote and passage while farmers watch their corn dry up in the heat, she'll have some hard explaining to do.


  1. Linda 2012.07.23

    80% of the farm bill goes to food stamps! The only thing that a farm bill and food stamps have in common is that farmers grow the food and food stamp recipients eat it. Food stamps belong in the HHS or welfare segment of the budget, not the farm bill.

  2. Justin 2012.07.23

    As far as I'm concerned, SD is a poor state with the huge legislative advantage of being overrepresented in the Senate.

    That ratio of Federal taxes in vs taxes out should be maximized. Private interests through Superpacs are vying for the Federal tax dollar we as a state we should be maximizing. I question SD but at least we weren't dumb enough to refuse $800 million in stimulus money. It supposedly disappeared and did nothing (except bail out the states revenue shortfall, bail out the highway funds and disappear into a fancy reserve that helps us out so much as citizens).

    Anything that goes to the farmers is a lot better than the flushing sound of Keystone XL tax abatements.

    This House is probably the worst ever though so we'll see.

  3. Justin 2012.07.23

    Yeah food stamps are the issue. They were expanded to illegal aliens, I think during the Bush administration and they want to end that now (I'm sure the house only, the Senate is always a shoo in for the farm bill for the reason I highlighted).

    Farmers have wanted food stamps separated from the farm bill for years, but they didn't really have any reason to argue against the expansion because it creates demand.

    This House barely has a vocabulary beyond "illegal alien".

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.23

    That's not a bad point, Linda. What's the historical reason for placing food stamps under USDA instead of HHS? Is there any reason moving SNAP out of the farm bill would cost money or result in less efficient service for the poor?

  5. Justin 2012.07.23

    Vote trading?

  6. Steve Sibson 2012.07.23

    "whose obstruction of the budget-cutting farm bill in the middle of a drought (hey, how about that tiny little sprinkle we had this morning?) is unprecedented"

    Cory, farmers are too big to fail, just like bankers?

  7. Justin 2012.07.23

    You should be proud that Bush's TARP policy has actually been a great success. 90% of the non Fannie/Freddie has been paid back at a 10% yield. And if Fannie and Freddie fail, your smallest problem is going to be a writeoff of the preferred stock if you own a house or want to buy a house. If the Fannie/Freddie portion is ever paid off completely it will have a similar yield and will have been profitable. Using preferred as the instrument to invest was a brilliant move by Bush and the Democratic legislature.

    If only the Bush tax cuts could have been so effective.

    It's such a laugh how reality

  8. Justin 2012.07.23

    differs from the narrative of the Right.

  9. mike 2012.07.23

    Maybe the GOP leaders are playing this up for farm state legislators to eventually get their way and have it come to the floor only to have Noem and other farm staters be able to show they can influence legislation?

    Or maybe this is just a bad bill?

  10. mike 2012.07.23

    There is a lot of similarity to what PP and Bill Clay are posting and style.

  11. larry kurtz 2012.07.23

    Hey, Mike: since i can't use my real name over there, go tell Pat to tell Noem that young ponderosa pine are depleting the water resources in the Black Hills hydrologic region and that her campaign contributors want to take the wrong trees...again.

    Oh, that and her contribution to the process is equally futile especially while the Forest Service is in the Department of Agriculture.

    Oh, and ask Pat if that's a squirrel on Kristi's head.

  12. Garyd 2012.07.23

    Linda, the reason the farm bill includes snap(food stamps) is that it made it easier to pass in the House as many of the members there were from urban areas so they "got something" out of it. Right wrong or indifferent that is the basic reason why it is what it is. With ag being such a small percentage of the population that was the only feasable way to get the bill through the house!

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.23

    Ah ha! Good political explanation, Gary!

  14. Linda 2012.07.23

    Garyd, well then it should be renamed as a welfare bill with the 20% dealing with actual farm programs as the secondary issue. Perception is that the farm bill is a bloated bill and the farmers are getting rich off it, where actually 80% of the bloatedness (what a word!) is for food stamps.

  15. Donald Pay 2012.07.23

    Why not just call it what it is: the whole farm bill is corporate welfare, and welfare for the elites who have hobby farms and ranches. The farm bill provides lots of federal welfare to South Dakota and the lazy people who live there.

    Food stamps benefit farmers a bit, but it's mainly there as a benefit to the food industry. Most of the food purchased through food stamps is overprocessed shit. A food stamp recipient has a difficult time purchasing real food at a farmers market, or even in a grocery store. The amount most people receive isn't enough, so they are stuck buying the bulky processed shit that passes for food.

  16. Justin 2012.07.23

    I don't disagree with either of those points but we are able to invest in farm land if we wish.

  17. Michael Black 2012.07.24

    “In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude.”

    George Washington

  18. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    En garde: US Dept. of Agriculture wants to open grazing on public ground to invasive species like Hereford and Angus.

  19. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    According to a medical professional viewing several recent videos there is copious evidence of collagen injections, botox, and JUVÉDERM® at an approximate cost to taxpayers in the five figures.

    Absences in committee meetings are evidence of some surgery: the hairline has been lowered to mask scarring.

  20. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    She is far less confident in her abilities than she was: likely the outcome of meeting people towering above her intellectual limitations; at times, it seems as if she is going to crack from the stress.

  21. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    Her sometimes uncorrected shrillness reveals palling insecurities; but, she can quickly rein in her emotions, again likely from the benefit of extensive coaching and/or therapy at taxpayer expense.

  22. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    Her handlers are asking Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. to resign: it's time Rep. Noem consider stepping away, too.

  23. Bill Fleming 2012.07.24

    Cory, I have information (perhaps aprocryphal?) that it was none other than George McGovern who sold the idea that "food stamps" should be part of the Dept. of Ag and the Farm Bill. It was along he lines of Mr. Pay's suggestion that it would be a way to prop up farm prices during periods of surplus production (...recall that we used to sell lots and lots of our grain to the Soviets...) That would explain why there are no real subsidies for farmers wanting to produce fruits and veggies. Maybe it's time to revisit that situation? (I heard recently that this will be the first year in history that more people die of obesity related problems than do of starvation.)

  24. Charlie Johnson 2012.07.24

    Hard to call food stamps a welfare program when many farm families themselves qualify for stamps. BTW-one of the biggest users of food stamps and free school lunches is hutterite colonies. Individual families receive very little in income thus they qualify while the farm income stays with the parent corporation.

  25. Douglas Wiken 2012.07.24

    Without food stamps in the farm program, there would be no farm program, crop insurance, conservation, or anything else. Farmers are now such a small part of the population even in South Dakota that they alone can't do much of anything...especially if they vote Republican and shoot themselves in the foot every two years or so.

  26. Dougal 2012.07.24

    Maybe it's time she led the House in a rousing 34th vote to repeal Obamacare to appease the Tea Party gatekeepers.

  27. G-Man 2012.07.24

    I read Varilek is leading in individual donations by a huge margin?

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.24

    Depends on how you define huge margin. Poke around and you find Varilek has received $430K in individual donations. That's 90% of his total receipts. Noem has received $1.31M in individual donations, 62% of her total take.

  29. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    Matt Varilek would do well to start talking amendments to ObamaCare:

    "The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Supreme Court’s health care reform decision will leave 3 million people who would have otherwise been covered under the Affordable Care Act without insurance, but will reduce the 10-year price tag of the law by $84 billion.

    The new projections suggest that the GOP’s recently renewed effort to repeal the entire law would increase 10-year budget deficits by over $100 billion."

  30. larry kurtz 2012.07.24

    The GOP is leading an assault against workers in Montana. It's time for South Dakota to embrace the United Farm Workers and other trade unions.

  31. mike 2012.07.25

    It hasn't taken Powers long after his job in the SOS office to start pulling out the filings from the SOS office.

    I wonder how much stuff he's been filing away for memory to pull out on the blog now? SDDP convention now something bigger later?

  32. Justin 2012.07.25

    relax mike I saw his article and believe it or not it actually came from the WEBSITE we have heard so much about.

    Transparency in action!

    Now if we could only expand what is on there by 50x

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