REVIEW & OUTLOOK- August 14, 2012, 7:15 p.m. ET
President Obama is in Iowa this week to play farm politics, blaming Republicans for a legislative stalemate that is delaying drought relief in the parched Midwest. The all-powerful Paul Ryan, the President declared, is “standing in the way.” That’s a good one. The truth is that Mr. Obama has taken drought relief as a hostage in order to pass another trillion-dollar farm and food-stamp blowout.
Mr. Ryan’s role, for the record, has been to call for reforms to a bloated farm program that today serves mainly to subsidize agribusiness and dispense food stamps. The current farm bill is due to expire next month and the Senate passed its extension in June with 64 votes. But this is hardly something to cheer. The product of Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Kansas Republican Pat Roberts would cost nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.
Mrs. Stabenow claims the bill represents “significant reform,” and it does eliminate some $5 billion in “direct payments”—handouts that go to growers whether they produce a crop or not. Instead, however, the Senate bill expands the government-subsidized crop insurance program. And the savings from ending direct payments are rolled into a new “shallow loss” program.