Thursday, January 3, 2013

Farm bill extension evidence of lost clout

WASHINGTON (AP) — A patchwork extension of federal farm programs passed as part of a larger "fiscal cliff" bill keeps the price of milk from rising but doesn't include many of the goodies that farm-state lawmakers are used to getting for their rural districts.
House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders who spent more than a year working on a half-trillion-dollar, five-year farm bill that would keep subsidies flowing had to accept in the final hours a slimmed-down, nine-month extension of 2008 law with few extras for anyone.
With the new Congress opening Thursday, they'll have to start the farm bill process over again, most likely with even less money for agriculture programs this year and the recognition that farm interests have lost some of the political clout they once held.
"I think there's a lot of hurt feelings, that all of this time and energy was put into it and you've got nothing to show for it," said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said it even more bluntly on the Senate floor just after she learned that the bare-bones extension would be part of the fiscal cliff deal.
"There is no way to explain this," she said angrily as the deal came together New Year's Eve. "None. There is absolutely no way to explain this other than agriculture is just not a priority."
After Congress failed to pass a farm bill earlier last year, the legislation became tangled in the end-of-the-year fiscal cliff talks as dairy subsidies were set to expire Jan. 1 and send the price of milk to $6 or $7 a gallon, double current prices. The White House and congressional leaders negotiating the fiscal cliff had agreed that the bill would somehow have to avert that "dairy cliff," but it was uncertain how.
Hoping to salvage some of their work, Stabenow and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., crafted a last-minute extension of 2008 farm law to add to the fiscal cliff package, including help for their own state interests: fruit and vegetable growers plentiful in Michigan, and more than $600 million in emergency money for livestock producers who were affected by drought, a priority for Lucas. In addition to averting the milk price spike, their bill also contained an overhaul of dairy programs, a priority for House Agriculture's top DemocratCollin Peterson of Minnesota.
The extension Stabenow and Lucas crafted cost around $1 billion — an amount too high and too risky for House and Senate leaders negotiating the broader fiscal cliff deal. According to aides familiar with the talks, the White House and congressional leaders wanted a farm bill extension with no major policy changes or new spending that could subject the entire fiscal cliff bill to opposition.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky added a bare-bones version of a farm bill extension that didn't include money for any of the agriculture leaders' top priorities and renewed other farm programs without any new funding.

First-time jobless claims rose to 372,000 last week

WASHINGTON -- First-time jobless claims rose to 372,000 last week, a level consistent with a moderately growing labor market ahead of Friday's December unemployment report.
The number of initial claims for unemployment benefits was up 10,000 in the week ending Saturday from the previous week's revised total, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of claims was higher than economists' projections of about 360,000.
The already volatile weekly numbers become even more so during the holidays, when government office closures force the Labor Department to estimate data from some states.
The figure for the week ending Dec. 15 was revised up to 362,000 from the 350,000 originally reported, which had been close to a 4 1/2-year low.
The less-volatile four-week average was 360,000, an increase of 250.
Thursday's figures were consistent with moderate job growth and came as private payroll firmAutomatic Data Processing reported that hiring accelerated in December.
The firm's closely watched survey said the private sector added 215,000 jobs last month, an increase from November's revised figure of 148,000. The Labor Department figure for private and public sector job growth in November was 147,000.

ADP: Employers add 215,000 jobs in December

ADP, a private staffing and business services firm, showed that private employers added 215,000 jobs in December. The total employment level is 1.57 percent above the level seen in December 2011, according to ADP.

Today, private staffing and business services firm ADP released the latest installment of their National Employment Report indicating that the situation for private employment in the U.S.improved in December as private employers added 215,000 jobs in the month bringing the total employment level 1.57% above the level seen in December 2011.


  1. How much pork can they stuff in Washington? A lot, apparently.

    The whole idea of politicos adding "earmarks" or "add-ons" to Bills so they will agree to vote for it leads to....bad Government, where ridiculous subsidy programs and things that never should be done are added at the last moment.

    I don''t think the Government should be in the business of "subsidizing" agricultural products. If milk has to be sold at $6 or $7 a gallon to cover the cost of producing it, so be it. Drink less milk. I recall hearing a Dr on the radio one time who said milk is great for baby cows, but for humans, not so much.

    I could go on a rant about the subsidy given to "glucose-fructose" producers (corn syrup), which is thought to be a leading cause of obesity and diabetes. Or how about gas/methanol from corn, again subsidized by the Government, another vast boondoggle.

  2. Gold hit 1630 today and the market is spinning in circles going nowhere. I don't see how gold and silver will ever climb to new heights even if Bennie and the Ink Jets print to infinity. However on KWN the guy who owns CMI said the buying was huge orders. It never seems to matter since physical is so small compared to all the paper GLD on the market.

  3. GAW I agree no need for subsidies. I can live without milk, ethanol and many of the other things the government subsidized. I'd like them to pull all subsidies to the oil companies now that the cars get better gas mileage we can afford 6.00-8.00 a gallon. Everyone else in Canada and Europe pay higher prices. Sorry for those who need gas at 3.50, but there are plenty of cars out there that get 40 mpg. No one needs to drive a monster truck that gets 12-15 miles to the gallon.

  4. Queenbee, if Gas rose to
    $8.00/gal. then fuel oil would also commensurately rise in price. So would diesel fuel.

    The result would be that my employer, and many other businesses in America, would immediately close their doors - putting millions out of work.

  5. But I am all for removing govt. subsidies and letting Milk rise to $8.00/gal. When people quit buying milk, the price will come back down until the customers return.

    Isn't that the way a free market is supposed to work?

  6. Obviously, you people haven't read/heard the news about the new trillion dollar coins. Debt ceiling? We don't need no stinkin' debt ceiling!

  7. I notice that an (R) from my state was trying to get welfare for the ranchers. The Repugs talk like they are fiscally conservative but they are big spenders too. They just prefer rich welfare cases to poor ones.

  8. Mammoth using your analogy on milk would it not also apply to oil? Your company will be pass increased costs on to their consumers and consumers will have no choice. It's not like a competitor will be able to undercut your company. Many will use less oil and drink less milk. Money would pour into alternative and renewable energy. People will eat less Captain Crunch and Frosted Flakes for breakfast. The world would balance itself without government subsidies.

  9. Sorry but that analogy would not apply to oil. I work at a paper mill. We do not set the price of our product; the Global Market sets the price of paper.

    Our overseas competitors WILL be able to better absorb the oil price increase that we will.

    The difference is that paper mills in other countries do not have as high operational costs as we do, because their environmental regulations are less stringent (or nonexistent).

    See, it costs a LOT to build, operate & maintain systems which pipe, treat, and dispose of waste streams, and otherwise comply with the US's stringent environmental regulations.

  10. CL, can we mint one of these One Trillion Dollar coins (with Bernanke's mug shot on the obverse) and give it to china to repay our debt?

    If they go through with minting this coin and then proceed with borrowing against it, this may have the unintended consequences of conveying to the world how blatant a counterfeiter the US Fed has become – causing a worldwide drop of confidence in the $USD.

    Can anybody here say ‘Tipping Point?’

    This may be it!

  11. Mammoth isn't that already the case? Is the only reason we can compete on the global market based on subsidies to maintain cheap oil? EPA standards are for everyone's well being? What about cheap labor? Suppose we relax EPA standards and reduce labor costs? Our air will become unfit to breathe as it is in Bejing and the people will work for slave wages. How many industries should we support through tax subsidies? Maybe there is no global market for what we manufacture any more unless it is subsidized by government entitlements.

  12. Queenbee,
    Why do you assume that I am suggesting we should eliminate our environmental laws?

    How about if we instead require imported products to be made to the same environmental & safety standards which are required from our own domestic manufacturers?

    By not doing this, we are essentially exporting pollution & degradation of the environment to other countries. This is what we have been doing, and it is immoral.

  13. Mammmoth I am not assuming that. However, we cannot change their laws and we cannot put tariffs on our biggest creditor who chooses to ignore these laws. Plus a lot of US manufacturers are already there and they are not coming back. I was just trying to make the comparison that we cannot compete any longer without subsidies. I am in no way suggesting that we remove EPA regulations.

  14. Interesting opinions here. Do we RAISE the standards to make a better world? Or lower them?

    That is NOT an easy answer. Those who quickly claim WE have to be the leader in all things, usually just as quickly want us to improve the lives of others but want us butting out of all internal struggles.

    I have found over the years that people who quickly jump to easy answers fail to see the implications. WE can improve industrial standards but will China? I especially love those who argue about the rights of females yet remain almost deafening silent over the huge problem of certain ideals promoted by some Middle Eastern countries (especially where female children are concerned.)

    That said, however, how can you blame a culture or religion for trying to protect its way of life? It is not as easy as it first appears to jump in with opinions. I remember reading about the Aboriginals in Australia and the Papua New Guinea tribes who didn't WANT to have connections with the 'world'. In some ways, they may be far smarter than we are!

    I think you guys just showed how important it is to have differing opinions expressed so that you can come to some common ground. Too bad you can't show those in Congress how it is done.

  15. CL I think you summed it up pretty good. I am taking another day or possibly two off so discuss whatever you like.

  16. "How about if we instead require imported products to be made to the same environmental & safety standards which are required from our own domestic manufacturers?

    By not doing this, we are essentially exporting pollution & degradation of the environment to other countries. This is what we have been doing, and it is immoral."

    Mammoth is entirely correct!

    "we cannot put tariffs on our biggest creditor who chooses to ignore these laws"

    Why not?

  17. I have to comment on the new AIG commercial. How they paid us all back and are ready to help and how wonderful they are (pat yourself on the back, why don't you?)

    What a great illustration of what is WRONG in America. No accountability or responsibility. Just everyone getting in trouble and expecting to be bailed out of their mistakes. Kids. Parents. Presidents. Congress. Banks. Doctors. You name it. Just do whatever you want because it is always someone else's fault.

    And did you hear the one about the prisoners SUING the alcohol companies because THAT made them commit said crimes?

    I'm so old that I can still see Flip Wilson as Geraldine, prancing across the stage saying, "The devil made me do it, honey." But, then again, I'd be lambasted for admitting there was a, never mind!

  18. We could do a lot about these issues, but because of the large corporate interests who benefit bribe politicians to not do anything to level the playing field, we do not.

    What it means is that the lower levels of the economy, workers here, lose their jobs, so corporations can make more profit. by building their products in other places who do not have our laws. So our average workers here are in fact subsidizing development over there, while here societal standard of living declines as jobs are lost.

  19. There are 2 solutions I can propose:

    "Free Trade" only between Western nations that have our high environmental standards.

    "Mirroring" where we impose the exact same duties, taxes, bureaucracy, customs holdups etc on their goods as they do on our exports to their nations.

  20. cl don't you feel proud that your tax dollars can go to helping AIG put commercials out that tell you hoe great they are?

    They're in the insurance business, where they insure they don't lose money by having you ensure they don't.

  21. CL you can mention whatever you want. Come hell or high water I don't believe they paid it all back. GS is laughing its ass off as the swaps they took out got paid in full. I think GAW has good ideas, but alas our spinless politicians will roll over for a bone when the big corporatacracy tells them to. Play ball or you won't be here next year. I see that District 9 was gerrymandered to being primarily democratic and Alan Grayson is back in office. Give em hell Alan, but don't call a ho a ho even if they work on K street. His other famous line was that Republicans don't want to finance your illness in your old age so you be hurry up and die. Now we have a Republican Bill Posey as congressman in district 8 (where I live). I'll give the man a chance and see what he votes on.

  22. How many times have I heard that small business drives employment and yet the ADP numbers out of 215,000 only 25,000 came from small business and manufacturing was down 11,000 more jobs.