The following excellent question must be asked again and again (and answered honestly) if those who believe in limited government are to not pick up the cloak of hypocrisy which many conservative lawmakers have previously worn:
Farm subsidies pose a knotty and immediate dilemma for Republicans, especially those aligned with the tea party. If you campaign on a platform of lower taxes, smaller government, no budget deficits and ending government redistribution of income to small interest groups, how on Earth can you vote for continued spending on federal commodity programs?
Exactly. One would think that one could not do so and “to thine own self be true” at the same time.
If the tea party adherents in the new Congress are not able to completely chop out entire programs like this, their movement will quickly become a debacle, economically and politically. Committed tea party members will be bitterly disappointed by the realities of Washington, just as true believers in Supply Side economics like Reagan Budget Director David Stockman were back in 1982.
Republicans are riding the crest of an electoral triumph, but they have a great deal at stake. If they have the courage to make a symbolic move like zeroing out ag subsidies for 2011, they will send a message that they are serious about cutting wasteful spending and the overall size of government. But if farm payments get through unscathed, tea party stalwarts rightfully will read it as a bad omen.
I would say that “zeroing out ag subsidies for 2011” is much more than a symbolic move. In addition to government not spending taxpayers dollars on something which it should not, I believe that one would see an increase in agricultural diversity and output as farmers across the nation tried to figure out what products were of greatest value to them to produce–and not which ones would be of greatest value within the context of the next farm bill.