January 30, 2014

I guess this shouldn't surprise anyone. It looks like members of Congress are tired of allowing the rest of us to know just how much they receive in farm subsidies.

The Environmental Working Group reported that "15 members of Congress or their spouses benefitted from a total of $237,921 in taxpayer-funded farm subsidy payments last year." Thanks to a provision slipped quietly into the new farm bill, we won't have access to that information.

Heaven forbid someone might use the information to criticize them for taking their corporate welfare while at the same time being more than willing to cut food stamps for those living in poverty.

Lawmakers won’t have to disclose the farm subsidies they receive:

A provision requiring members of Congress and the administration to disclose what crop insurance subsidies they receive was quietly dropped from the farm bill that the House passed on Wednesday.

Section 11001 of the House-passed farm bill had a provision that “requires disclosure (by name) of the amount of crop insurance assistance received by Members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, and members of their immediate families.”

That provision was taken out in closed-door conference negotiations before the bill was released on Monday. The bill cleared the House in less than 72 hours, before many lawmakers had a chance to review it, and now heads to the Senate.

Taxpayers for Common Sense who spotted the change has more analysis of the bill here: TCS Analysis of the Farm Bill Conference Report.

And they released this statement: TCS Statement on House Passage of the 2014 Farm Bill Conference Report:

“Today, the House of Representatives passed a trillion dollar farm bill 251 - 166 that thumbs its nose at our $17 trillion national debt and spends 50 percent more than the last farm bill. It not only fails to make long overdue reforms to outdated costly farm subsidy programs, but also increases spending on handouts for profitable agribusinesses during a time when the agriculture sector is experiencing record profits. In fact, the retrograde farm bill is so wasteful that “reform” was stripped from the title of the bill. Worse yet, it fails to rein in unlimited crop insurance spending or make even minimal reforms to farm subsidy payment limits that were already agreed to last year in both the House and Senate.”

“This $956 billion legislation will spend more than either farm bill passed in the House or Senate last year. With just $16.6 billion in expected savings, it will also spend drastically more than comparable portions of the President’s FY14 budget request or Representative Paul Ryan’s FY14 budget (which called for $38 billion and $31 billion in savings, respectively). According to the Congressional Budget Office, two-thirds of savings are expected to occur in Fiscal Years 2019-23, after the 2014 farm bill will have already expired, while more than half of the spending will occur in the next five years. The farm bill conference report is yet another example of Congress's penchant to increase spending now with promises to save later. Promises we all know will not come to bear, as the last two farm bills are on pace to exceed their CBO price tag by $400 billion.”

“The Agricultural Act of 2014 locks in failed status quo policies for yet another five years, continues the outdated direct payment program for cotton by another name, and wastes taxpayer dollars on new special interest policies for everything from sheep to sushi rice. The Senate should reject this conference report and go back to the drawing board to create a more cost-effective, accountable, transparent, and responsive farm safety net.”

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