Posts Tagged ‘Department of Agriculture’
August 2nd, 2013 at 11:48 am
‘Vital’ Agriculture Programs Pay Millions to the Dead
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If you followed the recent debate in Congress over the farm bill, you know that the associated programs were often sold as vital to preserving a way of life in rural America. To cut one red cent anywhere would be to betray the nation’s farmers. So we were told, anyway.

Well, it turns out that there are at least a few beneficiaries who will probably be able to get by without the federal handout. From James Grieff at Bloomberg View:

It’s bad enough that the U.S. government showers billions of dollars a year in subsidies and handouts on the nation’s farmers, a group that as a whole is much better off than most Americans. Now the Government Accountability Office says in a new report that many of the recipients of that federal largess aren’t even alive.

The agency determined that thousands of dead farmers have received as much as $36 million in payments for crop insurance, disaster aid and conservation programs. The report doesn’t say how dead farmers received the checks or who went to the banks to cash them — but never mind, since that wasn’t the GAO’s assignment.

These are the same people, keep in mind, who think that government can make health care less expensive than the private sector. Count me skeptical. In fact, I’m guessing that experiment will play out like an exaggerated version of the scenario above: with more money wasted and a higher body count.

November 9th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Obama’s Yuletide Gift to the Nation? A Christmas Tree Tax
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Four years ago at this time, we were all being told about the unrivaled intelligence of both candidate Barack Obama and his presidential campaign. Now, as the One prepares to launch his reelection campaign in earnest, we see how far the mighty have fallen. From Fox News:

The Obama administration has imposed a 15-cent tax on Christmas trees in order to pay for a new board tasked with promoting the Christmas tree industry.

There are still about eight weeks left in the year, but the odds are pretty good that this is the single dumbest sentence you will read about American politics this year. Even John Maynard Keynes deep into the eggnog would have a hard time working out the economic rationale of taxing an industry in order to finance a campaign promoting that same industry. And is there an epidemic lack of public awareness about Christmas trees in America? (Side note: are the PC police okay with calling them “Christmas trees” as long as we’re taxing them?)

More than anything else, this is just incredibly amateurish politics. With the flood of public workers who have come to D.C. during the Obama years, you’d think there’d be at least one political apointee with the savvy necessary to point out that a president presiding over a prolonged economic downturn (including 9 percent unemployment) may not want to make his contribution to the holidays a tax on the foundational symbol of the season. I suspect the principle may not sink in until next Christmas, when the president’s stocking is stuffed with a first-class ticket back to Chicago.

UPDATE: ABC News is now reporting that the administration is “going to delay implementation and revisit this action” in light of the uproar. It’s hard to know whether to be thankful that media scrutiny could cause such a swift retreat or depressed that it had to get this far down the road before the White House realized there was a problem.