President Bush vetoed the farm bill

I wrote the following last Wednesday evening, in anticipation of a straightforward farm bill veto. Little did I know the procedural snafu that would arise.

I have since edited it and written a follow-up. I will send the follow-up email soon. The first, written last Wednesday and included below, explains what we thought would happen. The second explains what actually happened. When combined, they provide an advanced-level course in how a bill becomes a law. We’re leaving Schoolhouse Rock in the dust.

As you read this, remember: it’s what we thought would happen last Wednesday. It’s still accurate, but glosses over the gory details of the procedural snafu that actually happened. That’s covered in the next note.

Last Thursday the President vetoed the farm bill. Here is the message he sent to the House of Representatives, stating his objections to the bill.

Here is a key quote from that veto message:

For a year and a half, I have consistently asked that the Congress pass a good farm bill that I can sign. Regrettably, the Congress has failed to do so. At a time of high food prices and record farm income, this bill lacks program reform and fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our objectives in international trade negotiations, which include securing greater market access for American farmers and ranchers. It would needlessly expand the size and scope of government. Americans sent us to Washington to achieve results and be good stewards of their hard-earned taxpayer dollars. This bill violates that fundamental commitment.

In addition, his objections include that the bill:

  • failed to improve the safety net for farmers and failed to move current programs toward more market-oriented policies;
  • forced taxpayers to subsidize farmers who have adjusted gross incomes of up to $1.5 million, when net farm income is projected to increase by more than $28 billion in one year;
  • eliminated the existing payment limit on marketing loan subsidies;
  • created a new uncapped revenue guarantee (described in last Wednesday’s Washington Post);
  • included earmarks, most notably:
    • $175 million to address water issues for desert lakes;
    • $250 million for a 400,000-acre land purchase from a […]