Farm bill politics front and center:
By STEVE KRASKE
The Kansas City Star
• “For two long years, our nation’s farm families and rural communities have waited for a farm bill. While this may not be the best possible bill – it’s the best bill possible right now.” — Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican.
Blunt said the measure, which passed the Senate and is headed to President Barack Obama, would bring some certainty back to farm markets. Obama has said he’ll sign the bill, which ushers in big changes to the American landscape, including cuts to food stamps and expansion of the crop insurance program. Eliminated is the long-standing practice of direct payments to farmers costing about $5 billion a year. They were paid to farmers regardless of whether they grew crops.
• “Unfortunately, I believe that Congress has missed the mark, and that the conference report goes backwards towards protectionist subsidy programs, instead of forward with innovative and responsible solutions.” — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, who opposed the farm bill.
Among Roberts’ concerns is the notion that agriculture “once again” is taking a disproportionate cut in spending compared to federal nutrition programs.
• “I cannot emphasize this enough: over the next 10 years, the President’s health care law will cost American taxpayers $2 trillion, reduce the full-time workforce by 2.5 million Americans, and enroll fewer Americans in Obamacare than was previously projected.” — Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Topeka, on a new Congressional Budget Office report.
The new report sent the White House scrambling to respond and once again put administration officials on the defensive. Republicans like Jenkins pounded away on a program that they see as their key to success in this year’s mid-term elections.
• “We have sort of an irresolvable conflict here.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell downplaying prospects that immigration reform can pass this year.
McDonnell dumped cold water on renewed optimism that a reform bill can succeed. He said the big stumbling block is the Senate’s interest in a comprehensive bill while the House wants a step-by-step approach.