Hoeven Teams Up With Democrats To Inflate Price Of Farm Bill
Senator John Hoeven seems to be spending a lot of time voting with Democrats of late. His vote to do an end-run around the debt deal’s spending limits (a departure from fiscal responsibility alleged “budget hawk” Kent Conrad joined him in) was perhaps the most disappointing example, but this is becoming a trend even on more minor issues.
Case in point, the farm bill. According to this article, Senator John Thune won’t name names when it comes to who is holding up progress (and inflating the price) of the farm bill, but it’s pretty clear to all involved that it’s North Dakota Senators Hoeven and COnrad, along with Montana Democrat Senator Max Baucus:
…no one wanted to go on the record and say which members were holding up the process. Most of the speculation focused on Southern senators such as Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA; John Boozman, R-AR; and Thad Cochran, R-MS., who were dismayed about how the farm bill treated peanuts and rice. Southern farm groups had circulated a letter earlier in the week, asking Stabenow to delay.
But it wasn’t until I talked to South Dakota Sen. John Thune the next day that the influence from his “neighbors to the north” became clear.
Thune said the decision to postpone marking up the 2012 farm bill was driven in large part by “objections raised at the last minute by a couple of senators from the northern states and a senator from a southern state.” Most of the objections focused on the Commodity Title and the new revenue-based Agricultural Risk Coverage program.
Thune said part of the northern senators’ concerns dealt with how the Commodity Title would apply to wheat growers’ base acres, but they also wanted to take the new revenue program down to the farm level. The Senate Agriculture Committee’s draft legislation had both county and farm level triggers, with the county level paying at 75 percent and farm levels paying at 60 percent.
While Thune declined to specifically identify his fellow committee members, it was no secret that Sens. Max Baucus, D-MT; Kent Conrad, D-ND; and John Hoeven, R-ND, had joined forces earlier in the year on an alternative commodity proposal that was based on farm level payments. They also wanted to see the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program continued for at least another year.
Taking the revenue program to only the farm level significantly adds to the cost, Thune explained.
“You are talking about an additional $15 billion in costs, so it wipes out all of the savings. That’s what they are holding out for and we’ll see how that debate all plays out,” he added.
I’m no party loyalist. I’m fine with Republicans working with Democrats on good ideas. But it seems that Hoeven is working with Democrats to lessen government accountability and increase spending.
That’s not a good trend for a politician who campaigned on fiscal responsibility.Tags: farm bill, John Hoeven, John Thune, Kent Conrad, max baucus, North Dakota News