March 23, 2012

New effort to limit farm subsidies?

In my inbox, from Sen. Mike Enzi's office:

[...] The Rural America Preservation Act of 2012 would limit annual per farm commodity subsidy payments and marketing loans to $250,000 for married couples. Individual farmers would be capped at $150,000. 


“There’s no better time than when our nation is in deep debt to stop making payments to people who don’t need it.  Under the current system the federal government is making payments to people who don’t farm.  This bill would change that,” Enzi said.

Enzi said the Rural America Preservation Act would save money and he hopes it will be included in this year’s Farm Bill. [...]

On the face of it, this sounds like a good bill, though I'll be reading up further on it and ascertaining more details. One thing that is notable, and perhaps curious: The bill is sponsored by Chuck Grassley, and co-sponsored by Ben Nelson and Tom Harkin. These guys represent farming states where I imagine some folks might be opposed to any limitation of farm subdidies. That leaves me wondering what the story is there. Worth noting also that the bill is backed by Tim Johnson, Sherrod Brown and Kirsten Gillibrand-- proving in Brown's case (IMO) that even a broken clock is right (or at least looks like it on first glance) twice a day. [intro]


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March 21, 2012

GOP-controlled NH House rejects effort to nix gay marriage, OK civil unions instead

From the AP, about an hour ago:

New Hampshire lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have made their state legislature the first one to repeal a gay marriage law, handing gay-rights supporters a key victory in the Northeast, where same-sex marriage is prevalent.

The state House voted 211-116 to kill the measure, ending a push by its new Republican majority to rescind New Hampshire’s 2-year-old gay marriage law. Nevertheless, both sides are pledging to continue fighting into the fall elections.

Repeal opponents hoped to solidify what they argue is public support for gay marriage, while supporters hoped to reverse the law in a region of the country where gay-rights groups have strength.

“Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry,” said Craig Stowell, co-chairman of Standing up For New Hampshire Families. Stowell said the House, where Republicans hold a 189-seat advantage, was supposed to give conservatives their best shot at repeal. “They blew it. This was supposed to be the most favorable legislative climate for repeal and they couldn’t even get a majority.”

In my view, New Hampshire Republicans who voted against repealing gay marriage made the right call. Gay marriage doesn't represent a threat to any individual liberties so long as robust conscience protections are in place, whereas the repeal of it would undermine a prior expansion of individual liberties (even if civil unions were permitted).

As the state's motto goes, "Live Free or Die." New Hampshire's GOP-controlled House, home to plenty of conservatives, decided to keep living free today, though I doubt the fight over this issue will end here....

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March 19, 2012

Why I would rather have Romney than Santorum

(It might surprise you.)

As the Republican primary bumbles forward, with Mitt Romney (on my read, anyway) the inevitable nominee but a weaker frontrunner than his supporters had hoped and one who is having to fight off the surprisingly large nuisance of Rick Santorum, I’ve done a lot of thinking about where I stand on these two candidates and why.

To put it kindly, I have major issues with both of them. [intro]

In the case of Santorum, these are, where philosophy is concerned, neatly summed up by the description “big government conservative.” The guy’s voting record encompasses pretty much everything I hated about Bush-era Republicanism: The focus on tax cuts over spending restraint (both are important, but without one, the other can only ever be temporary); support for Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind; enthusiastic support for corrupting earmarks and wasteful spending; the seeming focus on social issues over economic policy and fiscal restraint; the general belief and confidence in our ability to solve nearly all problems via intervention by an arm of the state. Add to that Santorum’s preference for protectionist policy, his rhetoric about homosexuality which comes off to me as way OTT (unlike that of many people opposed to gay marriage, I would add), his sincere, but hardline stance on abortion, and undisguised disdain for libertarianism and libertarian thinking, and we have someone who is very out of kilter with me, as participant in our political system....

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