Fiscal Cliff, Farm Bill 'Deal' Doesn't Offer Much

Pushing farm bill debate down the road is not a deal; it's a guarantee of continued endless posturing

As a general rule, I like to think of myself as an optimistic person, working along the lines of Abraham Lincoln’s observation that most people are exactly as happy as they make up their minds to be.

I have to admit, that in spite of the shenanigans coming out of Washington to avert a plunge off the “fiscal cliff” and extend the Farm Bill leave me less than excited about the prospects for the coming year. I don’t like feeling pessimistic but I’m finding my usual store of confidence hard to locate.

Read the fine print and you learn that nothing of lasting substance was accomplished in the “fiscal cliff” deal. The deal averts a totally manufactured “crisis” in the short-term. But before the wheat breaks dormancy, we’re right back where we started.

When word of an “extension” of the 2008 Farm Bill hit was mailbox, my first reaction was “Really? This is the best they can do?” And close on the heels came reaction from others in a similar vein. Not a single commodity group is happy with this game of kick the can.

It seems to me that our elected representatives really love being mired down in an endless debate with absolutely no real resolution in sight. Why else make “decisions” that require an immediate resumption of debate?

Consider this: The full Senate passed a 5-year, comprehensive Farm Bill SIX MONTHS ago. The House ag committee passed its version of a Farm Bill, but could never get it to the floor. Now, we’ve extended the 2008 bill (sans a dairy title and other shortfalls) for nine months, guaranteeing that the same morass of idiocy that prevented a perfectly good bill from being voted on continues to rule. What do they expect to happen in the next nine months that didn’t happen in the last six?

One might hope that there have been people walking the halls sowing seeds of common sense and that those seeds will sprout and grow a bountiful crop. If I were my usual optimistic self, I would think that might be the case. As it stands, all I can say is “good luck and I hope you make it through the next year.”



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