Government accounting practices have always been more art than science. Some of us can remember the late Sen. Everett Dirksen’s saying: “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon it adds up.”
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns grew up in a different area than the legendary Illinois Republican — Johanns hails from Iowa by way of Nebraska — but he may have taken lessons from another Illinois native, Ronald Reagan.
When Johanns unveiled the Bush administration’s 2007 farm bill proposal in January, he promised to deliver $5 billion more in producer support than if the 2002 farm bill were reauthorized. At the same time, he said, they reportedly would save $10 billion compared to the 2002 law.
In a speech at an Informa Economics’ conference earlier this month, Johanns repeated those numbers, attributing the spending reductions to unspecified “deficiencies realized elsewhere.”
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