Hotflash has already written on this site about Claire McCaskill’s praise-worthy position in regard to budget earmarks. Her refusal to endorse padding unrelated legislation with random bits of pork was referenced today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (12/16/07, ) which notes a “rift” over earmarks between McCaskill and her Republican colleague from Missouri, Senator Kit Bond. McCaskill explains that:
“You need to understand that I’m coming here with a kind of passion for trying to be fiscally conservative”
Well and good, but it seems that McCaskill only objects to earmarks because they represent bad budget practice–she seems to have no problem with pork when it sails through the congress as part of large spending bills like the new five-year Farm Bill that passed the Senate on Friday.
In a second article in the Post Dispatch (12/16/07), McCaskill and Bond were among those who defeated efforts to limit subsidies to farming couples at $250,000 a year. As the article notes:
Now they’re enduring criticism from some farm advocacy groups who argue that the wealthiest farmers should not receive big government payments while receiving record-high prices for corn and other crops.
“Bond and McCaskill share responsibility for continuing the policy of destroying family farming and undermining rural communities by subsidizing mega-farms to drive smaller operations out of business,” said Chuck Hasselbrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, a Nebraska-based advocacy group.
Among the critics, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the main food industry lobby complained in a statement Friday that the farm bill “extends Depression-era price supports that help few farms, harm small farmers, raise food costs and violate our commitments to our trading partners.”
At least one of the comments on the earlier diary by Hotflash that I referenced above, argued that earmarks are a legitimate tool that allow diversified budget control and permit local needs to be inserted into the Federal budget. While I still believe that the earmark process is bad policy, and that the budget process needs to be reformed, I also think that such reform requires legislators who can look beyond the interests of the big players in their state, in this case, big agribusiness. There are better ways to represent the true interests of farmers than federal give-aways to wealthy farmers and corporate agribusiness. If McCaskill truly wants to be a fiscal conservative, she can start by taking better care of tax-payer money in general.
If McCaskill is not really against pork spending, maybe it is too bad that she is not lining up to get us some of that earmark pork. As the Post-dispatch reporter notes, McCaskill is refusing to participate in a process that:
… he [i.e. Bond]had used to secure millions of dollars for everything from university research projects to bridge funding.