By Josh Barro
President Obama criticized Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for being one of the "leaders of Congress" blocking a farm bill to help rural America from becoming law...
"So, if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities," Mr. Obama said. "We've got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America."
Mr. Obama called the bill the "best way" to respond to natural disasters and give farmers and ranchers "some long-term certainty." The Midwest is currently suffering a historic drought.
As Bloomberg View's editors have written, the farm bills currently stalled in Congress trade one set of ill-advised industry subsidies for another. They would continue to favor farming over other industries. And by handing out more insurance, they would actually create new incentives to farm land that is susceptible to drought.
Worse, these policies aren't even that controversial. The main point of contention between Republicans and Democrats in Congress is how deeply to cut the food stamp program, which is contained within the same law as farm subsidies; they are in broad agreement on giving handouts to farmers.
Obama says we need to "put politics aside" and give farmers their money. This is backwards. America's food policies, which put food producers' interests ahead of of those of food consumers, are all about politics. Farmers are an effective lobby; eaters aren't.
Putting politics aside would mean getting the government out of the farm subsidy business, and forcing farmers to seek profit-making opportunities and plan for risks like other businesspeople do. It certainly wouldn't mean authorizing a new farm bill.
Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View at the Ticker.-0- Aug/14/2012 20:25 GMT