In the Daily Grist today, we cover a story about the farm subsidy cuts in Bush’s new budget. Due to the nature of that venue — just the fact, ma’am! — we don’t express any skepticism about the news.
So let me do it here: It’s bullshit.
Nobody in their right friggin’ mind thinks agricultural subsidies — which Bush raised in his first term — are going to get cut in his second. This is a circus sideshow, meant to distract attention from the grossly regressive cuts elsewhere in the budget.
The most dastardly way of reading the much-ballyhooed cuts are as a backdoor attempt to cut foodstamps. Here’s how it works: Bush recommends that the USDA cut subsidies; Congress appropriates an amount for the department commensurate with the cuts; powerful ag-state Senators defend their subsidies; to come in within its new budget, the USDA cuts food stamps instead. Brilliant, no? That’s what Ed Kilgore and Sam Rosenfeld suspect — what Kilgore calls a “two-cushion shot.”
Matt Yglesias, however, points out that the budget already contains explicit cuts in food-stamp funding, so maybe the ag-subsidy cuts are the kind that Mark Schmitt describes, known to all concerned, including the administration, as purely symbolic and never to become real.
Whatever the case, in this draconian budget — particularly damaging to public health — ag-subsidy cuts are no reason to take heart.