As lawmakers continue their work this week on a new five-year farm bill, they should be cutting unnecessary agricultural subsidies -- especially those going to extremely wealthy Americans.
Savings on agricultural subsidies could be put to good use in a broader budget agreement. Reasonable cuts in such “mandatory” programs -- programs that are not subject to annual approval in Congress -- could enable lawmakers to move away from the mindless “sequester” cuts that neither party fully supports.
According to a new report from the Environmental Working Group, the government paid $11.3 million in certain types of farm subsidies to 50 billionaires or businesses in which they had financial stakes between 1995 and last year. Many of the billionaires may also be receiving subsidies for federal crop insurance.
Such subsidies undermine public confidence in government and raise skepticism about the need to make hard choices in fiscal policy. In addition, Washington is reducing food assistance for the poor, including 22 million children. That’s hard to square with continued federal payments to extremely wealthy individuals.
Further discussion of the sequester and the Fiscal 2014 budget is expected Wednesday, when the budget conference committee is scheduled to hold its next meeting.