Farm subsidies are another area where money could be saved. They're expected to hit $17.8 billion this year. Two-thirds of the nation's 2.1 million farms receive no subsidies, either because the crops they grow are not eligible, or because they are too small and marginal to qualify. According to the Environmental Working Group, the vast majority of farmers who get government checks receive only small amounts. Eighty percent of the recipients between 1995 and 2003 received, on average, $6,918 for the entire period. Most of the farm subsidy money (72 percent) goes to 10 percent of the recipients, the richest farmers, partnerships, corporations, estates and other entities.
Various federal dairy programs are woefully out of date, according to CAGW. Dairy subsidies started in the 1930s during the Great Depression when, according to a July 2004 Department of Agriculture report, "most milk production (60 percent) was destined for fluid consumption, markets were predominately local and many dairy enterprises were part of diversified farming operations." Today, most milk is used for manufactured dairy products, markets for them are national and dairy farms have become highly specialized operations. Eliminating the dairy subsidy would save an estimated $1.15 billion per year.
And so it goes with sugar subsidies ($160 million per year in savings), as well as the Small Business Administration's Microloan program, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. NASA administrator Michael Griffin recently admitted that the shuttle and space station were mistakes. Those mistakes cost $3.39 billion annually, CAGW says.
One more example of waste: The Boston Herald reported that many of the New Orleans evacuees from Hurricane Katrina are using their $2,000 government cash cards to buy liquor, watch strippers and pay for lap dances on Cape Cod where 235 of them were brought initially and are living at taxpayer expense at Camp Edwards on Otis Air Force Base.
Let's hope Congress works on at least depriving these characters of their federally subsidized booze and lap dances and that we don't hear any more of this "cut to the bone" nonsense.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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