Art Cullen

Buyers' Remorse

Farmers who stand to lose 2.5% to 3.5% of their income because of cuts in the agriculture budget should not be fooled: The Bush administration says the spending reductions are needed to pay for hurricane relief. In fact, the wrong-headed war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy are the cause of cuts to the nation's food producers.

Understand that net farm income from crops is derived from the government program and not the marketplace. So a cut of, say, 3% will be subtracted proportionately from the farmer's bottom line.

That's a big take from the economy of Buena Vista County and Iowa.

Yet, BV County and Iowa voted for George Bush.

Bush did not bring on the hurricanes. But his administration did mislead the American people into waging a war against a nation that posed no threat to the US. The costs have yet to be assessed.

The Bush administration campaigned on the central premise of cutting taxes at the top to make the economy perform. The result is staggering deficits that are causing interest rates to rise, and weaken our strength in the world economy. We are borrowing from the Chinese to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and finance a war with no benefit.

"Nationwide, there is a great sense of buyer's remorse," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told us. "I think things are disintegrating."

Harkin, as ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, refused to sign on to the cuts for agriculture. Food stamp recipients -- the poorest among us -- will be hurt. The Conservation Security Program -- the only government farm support we know of that can survive the World Trade Organization's attack on subsidies -- will be cut even more severely. "They just can't wait to destroy this thing," Harkin said of the CSP, which pays farmers who voluntarily engage in conservation practices.

George Bush has given us what he promised: intractable war in the Middle East, tax breaks to the wealthy, no-bid contracts to Halliburton and reduced aid to farmers growing basic foodstuffs.

Buena Vista County and Iowa bought into it. We may feel remorse, but we deserve it whether we were fooled or not.

Art Cullen is managing editor of The Progressive Populist and editor of The Storm Lake Times in Iowa, where this originally appeared.

From The Progressive Populist, Dec. 1, 2005

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