Former Ag Secretary John Block –
Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—
Here we are in the “dog days of August.” Crops are heading towards maturity. They are even harvesting in the South. Our Members of Congress are back in their districts getting an “earful” from their constituents – President Obama is playing golf at Martha’s Vineyard.
The list of issues that should be dealt with here in Washington is long and serious.
#1. We will run out of money to fund our government obligations unless Congress raises the debt ceiling. Republicans say “fine” – we will vote to raise the debt ceiling (borrow more money) if we can also reduce our entitlement program obligations (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security). Liberals do not want to touch that third rail of politics. How will we get this done? I don’t know, but I don’t expect a government shutdown.
#2. President Obama wants to pass a budget that gets rid of the sequestration cuts that have been in force across the board this year. In reality, that sequestration is what has forced a reduction in federal spending. We never would have had the courage otherwise. I don’t think Republicans will agree to give up on the sequestration cuts unless the Democrats make major spending concessions – which is very unlikely.
#3. Immigration reform is a hot topic, and a growing list of advocates are pushing to get it done. I hope we get it done. Agriculture needs the labor supply. On the border security question, I am not very excited about building a 60 billion dollar wall between the U.S. and Mexico; too much money, and I don’t like a wall. We may still find enough common ground to get this passed.
#4. Tax reform – we have the most complex screwed up Tax Code you can imagine. It is full of loopholes to give special breaks to certain groups. We need to get rid of the loopholes and cut the rates for everyone. We have seen bipartisan progress on tax reform. However, Senator Harry Reid says, “no way” unless it raises tax money.
Let us not forget – the farm bill is still sitting in limbo.
We shall see on all of these issues. There is a lot to do and little time left.
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.