What’s Really Wrong with the Food Stamps and Farm Subsidies Bill the House Just Passed

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In Heritage Work

Daren Bakst

Daren Bakst

By a vote of 251-166, the House of Representatives today passed a $956 billion bill to fund food stamps and subsidize farmers.

This bill is substantially worse than earlier versions of the legislation, one of which had followed Heritage Foundation suggestions to split the welfare and agriculture elements.

Heritage agriculture expert Daren Bakst explains how this handout-laden monstrosity came about in The Federalist: Continue Reading »

6,300 Dead Farmers Collected Farm Subsidies Over the Last Five Years

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In Heritage Work

Design Pics / Dave Reede/Dave Reede/Newscom

Farm subsidies have been controversial for some time. But surely no one can argue that dead farmers should collect taxpayers’ money.

Yet recent reports show that from 2008-2012 the U.S. Department of Agriculture handed out over $36 million to 6,300 dead farmers. The Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz says this alarming figure is actually an improvement:

Taxpayers may take some solace from the fact that the number of expired payments has declined. For example, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), which oversees income subsidies and disaster payments, had paid a whopping $1.1 billion to 172,801 deceased farmers between 1999 and 2005.

There’s plenty of room to cut from wasteful agriculture programs. Heritage experts Daren Bakst and Romina Boccia proposed billions in specific cuts earlier this year.

Do you think Congress will ever act to rein in farm subsidies?

New Energy-Efficiency Law Would Give Handouts to Special Interests

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In Heritage Work

New energy-efficiency legislation “amounts to nothing more than handouts to companies in the energy-efficiency business at the taxpayers’ expense,” Heritage Foundation expert Nicolas Loris writes.

The legislation, authored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D–NH) and Rob Portman (R–OH), would impose paternalistic new rules on Americans. It would also create new taxpayer-funded programs that “would benefit special-interest groups and promote corporate welfare.”

Lawmakers should avoid intervention in the markets, Loris explains: Continue Reading »

Your Tax Dollars Are Paying for Animated Squirrels

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In Heritage Work

Animated squirrel

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “California walnuts?” Apparently, for the federal government, it’s animated squirrels that fight a villain called “The Colesterator”.

This is just one of many strange projects the federal government has subsidized to bring attention to American agricultural products overseas. Heritage Foundation expert Daren Bakst has some data: Continue Reading »

Infographic: Where the Farm Bill Money Really Goes

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In Other Work of Note

The farm bill currently being debated isn’t really a farm bill at all. It’s more than 80 percent food stamps.

But even the farm portions of the bill aren’t what they seem. Heritage Foundation experts made this infographic to expose the truth. Share it on Facebook!

Infographic: Who Really Gets Farm Bill Money

Why the Farm Bill Is a ‘Tangle of Subsidies, Welfare Payments and Environmental Patronage’

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In Heritage Work

The 'farm bill' is 80% food stamps

Congress is currently debating the so-called “farm bill,” which Heritage Foundation experts Daren Bakst and Diane Katz call “a multi-billion-dollar tangle of agriculture subsidies, welfare payments, and environmental patronage.”

In fact, this legislation is really a food-stamp bill with farm programs tacked on. As Bakst and Rachel Sheffield explain, this approach allows urban and rural lawmakers to join forces to spend taxpayer money. Continue Reading »

Mike Gonzalez Explains the Liberal Disconnect on PBS Funding

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In Heritage Impact

Heritage Foundation vice president Mike Gonzalez explains the liberal mindset on funding PBS to US News:

There’s a reason liberals have taken up Big Bird as the face of public broadcasting and not, say, Bill Moyers. Mr. Bird is feathery and cuddly, while Moyers likes to compare American flag lapel pins to Mao’s Little Red Book. This is how the left undermines our institutions from within: make the effort appear homey and apple pie-ish. Show Big Bird, not Big Bill…

Only PBS and NPR journalists think they’re entitled to a conservative taxpayer’s dime. And this is the nub of the problem. How can an institution that represents the views of only the liberal half of the population, and only grudgingly acknowledges conservatives and their principles in passing, believe it has a claim on all taxpayers?

Do you think the federal government should continue to subsidize PBS?

Farm Subsidies Support Farms That Aren’t Actually Farming

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In Heritage Work

How wasteful are farm subsidies? Heritage Foundation investigative reporter Lachlan Markay has the scoop:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has doled out millions of dollars in subsidies to farms on which farming isn’t actually taking place, according a new report from government watchdogs. Billions more have gone towards supporting farms that don’t grow the crops for which they’re being subsidized.

USDA gave nearly $3 million last year to 2,327 farms that had not grown any crops since 2006, according to the report, released last week by the Government Accountability Office. Of those farms, 622 had not grown any crops since 2001.

Read more about this absurdity on the Foundry.

What’s the Truth About Student Loan Interest Rates?

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In Heritage Work

Harvard College. Photo: Flickr/Matthew Boyer

Should taxpayers subsidize students attending Harvard? Photo: Flickr/Matthew Boyer

As President Obama travels the country urging continued federal subsidies for higher education, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke weighs in on the issue in an interview with the Washington Post:

Keeping interest rates artificially low will fail to drive down college costs in the long run. Colleges will once again be able to increase costs, and students with easy access to low-interest loans will once again be able to pay. The Obama administration has significantly increased federal involvement in the student loan industry, effectively nationalizing student lending through language buried in Obamacare, by continuing to increase federal subsidies, and by “forgiving” student loans altogether after 20 years on the backs of taxpayers. But these policies only exacerbate the college cost crisis, continuing a vicious cycle whereby college costs rise in tandem with ever-increasing federal subsidies.

Read all Heritage research on higher education here.

What do you think the federal government’s role should be in higher education?

Heritage’s Loris Takes the Wind Out of Energy-Subsidy Backers

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In Heritage Impact

Nicolas Loris

Nicolas Loris

A leading magazine covering energy issues gives The Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris credit for moving energy policy in a more free-market direction.

Energy & Environment Daily reports (subscribers only) on the fate of proposals to extend federal subsidies for wind energy:

But Baucus could face an uphill battle in convincing House Republican conferees to add the tax extenders to a payroll tax-cut bill, if the conservative Heritage Foundation has anything to say about it. Nick Loris, an energy policy analyst at the think tank influential with many in the Republican caucus, yesterday slammed Brownback and Branstad’s letter as equivalent to endorsing subsidies for outmoded VHS tapes.

A study cited by the governors that letting the wind credit expire would lead to nearly 50 percent fewer wind-energy jobs, Loris wrote in a blog post, “means two things: 1.) The subsidy has been artificially propping up jobs in the industry and shifted labor and capital away from other, more productive sectors of the economy; and 2.) Wind can compete without subsidies and the industry won’t entirely disappear.”

Heritage’s dogged opposition to federal support for an array of energy-sector benefits was a contributing factor behind one senior House Republican’s recent decision to put aside his legislative efforts to direct a no-bid federal contract to a uranium re-enrichment company that would create jobs in his home state (E&ENews PM, Jan. 19).

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