Our Opinion: Parties hurt US with impassePublished 9:39am Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Last week, the U.S. House of Representative finally passed a farm bill. It appears the Senate will also pass the bill and President Barack Obama will sign it. The fact it took Congress several years to pass a bill that is traditionally among the most bipartisan measure before Congress is simply ridiculous.
Based on news stories, the new farm bill seems to vary only slightly from the old one, cutting food aid by 1 percent and shifting some agriculture subsidies from direct payments to insurance programs.
The fact is, the deal that was passed likely is only slightly different than bills introduced years ago. It is likely many House Republicans voted against the farm bill, now and in the past, simply to be grandstand for voters or to appease the extremist elements of their party. Democrats likewise seemed more interested in playing to their extreme fringe than to getting done a bill that is essential for America.
Even allowing for fraud and bad food choices, the food stamp program is vital for many parents who rely on its to provide nutritional meals for their children. It’s also a fact that U.S. farmers need subsidies to ensure a level global playing field, because most other countries subsidize their farmers. Republicans who opposed the farm bill are simply not living in reality. Democrats who stuck to ideologically pure positions that made it hard to win Republican support were likewise doing little to help their constituents.
The result of all this grandstanding and delay was a disruption that was bad for America. Some may object to Obama’s recent pledge to use the power of his office to implement certain policies. If both parties in Congress are going to continue to take extremist, immovable positions on every bill, it almost seems better for the president to make policy. The best solution, of course, would be for Congress to govern responsibly and there is no time like the present for that to begin.