Harold Camping is “flabbergasted” that the world did not end on May 21st as he had predicted. I think it’s because he didn’t account for the devastation that will be wrought by Republican budget cuts for fiscal 2012, which doesn’t begin until October 1st. Therefore, Camping’s new predication that the world will end on October 21st is much more plausible.
Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee that deals with agriculture and nutrition programs passed its bill, which will now be considered by the full committee. According to the committee’s numbers, discretionary funding for these programs in 2012 would be $17.2 billion – a $2.7 billion reduction versus 2011.
According to a statement released by the subcommittee’s ranking member, Sam Farr (D-CA), the four horsemen are readying their saddles:
Farmers will be broken. Jobs will be lost. Ag economies will crumple.
Wow, even though “the farm economy [is] booming”? I half expect to see Rep. Farr waving a "The End is Near!" sign from a street corner in early October.
The Associated Press reports that “hunger advocates” are particularly upset by an 11 percent funding reduction for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). (“Hunger advocates” is the AP’s bizarre term for advocates of federal welfare programs.) The AP cites an estimate from a group of “hunger advocates” that the cuts could deny benefits to 475,000 people otherwise eligible for WIC.
If you’re looking for Republicans to defend the cuts on the basis that there’s nothing “progressive” about depending on a federal bureaucracy for sustenance then you’re going to be disappointed:
Republicans who wrote the bill said the cuts in domestic food programs are taken from excess dollars in those accounts, and participants won't see a decrease in services.
Subcommittee chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) basically says that the cuts are about making the federal government more efficient:
This subcommittee has begun making some of the tough choices necessary to right the ship. We have taken spending to below pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels while ensuring USDA, FDA, CFTC, and other agencies are provided the necessary resources to fulfill their duties. Our members have worked to root out waste and duplication and, where they have strayed from their core mission, we rein in agencies so they may better focus on the responsibilities for which they are intended. In doing so, we balance the urgent need for fiscal restraint with the necessity to provide an abundant food supply, robust trade, prudent conservation measures, and strong rural communities.
Sorry, congressman, but if the media is going to uncritically report the “women and children will suffer” argument, the “root out waste and duplication” counter-argument isn’t going to win the heart of the average American who probably thinks WIC is something that comes out of a candle.
For all the angst over cuts to discretionary spending, I don’t see much discussion over the fact that, according to Republicans, mandatory spending for agriculture and nutrition programs will increase by $3 billion – from $105 to $108 billion. Spending on food stamps, which unlike WIC, is basically on auto-pilot, would increase by almost $6 billion. I’m guessing that the “hunger advocates” didn’t plug that number into their equation.
I’ll end on a positive note by pointing out that Cato’s Downsizing the Federal Government website has essays on why it would be truly “progressive” to eliminate farm subsidies, rural subsidies, food subsidies, and other federal welfare programs.