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Now, the pressure of fiscal realities has created an uncertain future for the traditionally bipartisan bill. Already, the wheat and sugar lobbies are hard at work to protect their subsidies. The Republican point man on the farm bill, Rep. Frank Lucas (Okla.), dismissed the House-passed budget in a statement as merely a “suggestion” because it would force him to recognize those realities.
Despite being on defense for years, farm bill proponents have rarely ceded ground. Just take the 2008 farm bill, which authorized a record $288 billion in spending and increased payments during a time of record profits. Republicans — 100 in the House and 34 in the Senate — joined their Democratic colleagues to override President George W. Bush’s veto. If not for an overlooked $37 billion tax increase in the bill, more Republicans would have joined.
While the farm bill’s historical bipartisan appeal seems daunting, the ground is fertile for change. If lawmakers are serious about saving the American dream, they must continue these fights. It is not enough to repeal Obamacare and implement a fiscal plan in the vein of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposal, though both are essential. To be committed to limited government, Republican lawmakers must embrace their natural allies and vigorously oppose the upcoming farm bill.
A reversal on earmarks will undermine a multiyear rebranding effort by the Republican Party, and more importantly, seal the fate of America’s decline.
Michael A. Needham is CEO of Heritage Action for America. Tim Chapman is the organization’s chief operating officer.