Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How do you calculate the math in the Farm Bill?

As in most government operation there are many ways to add the numbers up to illustrate your particular point. This happens all the time especially in regards to federal spending. The 2008 Farm Bill is no exception. Is this Voodoo Economics all over again?

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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