Finally, there is no end in sight for Federal subsidies to multi-millionaire farmers. These subsidies, as this column has noted before, cost American taxpayers millions of dollars a year, are wasteful, and generally hinder the development of more productive farmland and the planting of market-driven crops. Yet Congress shows no inclination to cut subsidies from the current Farm Bill. By paying farms to plant specific crops regardless of the demand for those crops or allowing their fields to lie fallow, these subsidies unintentionally raise the price of other commodities that could be planted instead. President Bush was correct to note that Congressional support for farm subsidies will do little other than contribute to the rising prices of food.
President Bush should be commended for giving this speech. He was correct to remind Americans that if we want to lower the cost of energy we must be willing to use our own resources, whether they are natural or those we can build, rather than rely upon others to provide for our needs. After all, isn't self-reliance part of the American spirit. We should not rely on foreign governments, many of which are volatile, to supply our energy needs, nor should our large farmers rely on Federal Government handouts to prop up their financially lucrative businesses.
Throughout this economic downturn it has seemed as if Congress, the Federal Reserve and other government agencies have reacted to the crisis rather than thought of productive ways in which they could lead on the issue. It is wise for the President to begin to exert some leadership on this issue. Hopefully he will maintain a spotlight on this issue and pressure Congress to initiate some constructive change, not implement more regulation and taxes.