A Windfall Profits Tax for Farmers--Heavens, No!--

Given the huge increase in food prices and farm incomes, I wonder why some of our politicians aren't proposing a windfall profits tax on farmers.

To the contrary, Congress is passing a big farm bill with more pork for farmers:

A Porker Of A Farm Bill

The latest score on farm legislation: Congress 1, President Bush 0. And there's a good chance for a shutout within the next few days.

Wednesday afternoon, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a much-debated Farm Bill, with a veto-proof 318-106 vote. The measure, stuffed with lawmakers' pet projects for local farmers, now moves to the Senate, where it is also likely to pass. Bush, now traveling in the Middle East, has threatened to veto the $290 billion bill because it gives generous subsidies to farmers, many of whom are now reaping the benefits of higher food prices.

"Farm income is expected to exceed the 10-year average by 50% this year, yet Congress' bill asks American taxpayers to subsidize the incomes of married farmers who earn $1.5 million per year," he said in a statement Tuesday.

Nonetheless, if it passes the Senate by a two-thirds majority, the president's veto would be moot. Still, Bush is likely to try--Congress has only overridden his veto once in the past seven years. It's also a smart move for him. As a lame duck president, he can call for reductions in government spending, then put the blame on a Democrat-controlled Congress for going over budget in an election year.

The "farm bill" is actually far more than funding for agriculture programs. The measure passed Wednesday increases funding for nutrition programs by $10.4 billion, provides $1 billion for renewable-energy investments, increases conservation spending by $7.9 billion and adds $84 million to international food aid and nutrition programs. The National Food Bank Network praised the bill, which provides $1.25 billion to food banks. The bill also cuts the corn ethanol tax credit [slightly to 45 cents a gallon], redirecting the money to incentives to improve research on cellulosic ethanol [subsidized at $1.01 a gallon].

But it's also laden with pork. According to Ryan Alexander, president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, the bill includes "tax breaks for horse racing and timber companies, millions for salmon fishermen and subsidies to millionaire farmers." The group says just 8% of all producers receive 78% percent of the subsidies in the farm legislation. . . .

When the current farm bill was proposed in February 2007, Bush wanted to provide subsidies only for farmers with incomes under $200,000 per year. The bill that just passed the House would provide subsidies for farmers who make up to $750,000 annually, $1.5 million for couples.

It is nonsense to continue subsidizing ethanol, propping up food prices, and providing other forms of government welfare for the rich.

UPDATE: Here is an example of the sort of provisions that lobbyists got inserted into the farm bill.