Members of Congress Receive Useless Subsidies (Apart From Their Salaries)
If there’s one set of government economic interventions that virtually everyone who isn’t planning on running for President agrees is useless and counterproductive, it’s the system of farm subsidies and price supports that benefit large farming conglomerates at the expense of the small business farmers that they are ostensibly supposed to help. So why doesn’t it surprise me that several Congresspersons are large beneficiaries of these programs?
Bachmann, of Minnesota, has spent much of this year agitating against health care reform, whipping up the so-called tea-baggers with stories of death panels and rationed health care. She has called for a revolution against what she sees as Barack Obama’s attempted socialist takeover of America, saying presidential policy is “reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom.”
But data compiled from federal records by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that tracks the recipients of agricultural subsidies in the United States, shows that Bachmann has an inner Marxist that is perfectly at ease with profiting from taxpayer largesse. According to the organization’s records, Bachmann’s family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann’s recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized—or “socialized”—businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls.
Chuck Grassley, the longtime Republican senator from Iowa who warns his constituents of Obama’s “trend toward socialism,” has seen his family collect $1 million in federal handouts over an 11-year period, with Grassley’s son receiving $699,248 and the senator himself pocketing $238,974. Even Grassley’s grandson is learning to ride through life on training wheels, snagging $5,964 in 2005 and $2,363 in 2006. In the Grassley family they learn early how to enjoy other people’s money.
Then there’s Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., whose family has been on the government take for at least the past 11 years, pocketing some $500,000.
There are several more examples on the Democratic side. The article itself is unfortunate in that I think it’s hell-bent on pointing out hypocrisy, which is beside the point. The real issue here is that there are some pretty big problems with members of the legislature taking advantage of subsidies and price controls like this. Especially subsidies and price controls that are as grossly inefficient, counterproductive, and anticompetitive as the ones in our agricultural system.
(link via John Cole)