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Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington February 24, 2021 “Relief Bill”

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Joe Biden has been President for a month and now Tom Vilsack has just been approved as our new Secretary of Agriculture.  I am happy to see Tom Vilsack stepping back into the job that he held for 8 years under President Obama.  At least, he already understands the responsibilities that an Ag Secretary must face.

At the top of his list will be the Coronavirus fallout and the $1.9 trillion relief bill.  Agriculture will have interest in the bill.  It provides $23 billion in new money for agriculture and nutrition.  More family food boxes will be on the way.  More foreign workers for the ag industry will receive legal status.  Consolidation in the ag industry is a big concern.  Look for more antitrust enforcement.

Many of President Biden’s priorities that impact agriculture could be helpful.  I am very pleased to see EPA moving to support ethanol by limiting the small refinery waivers.  However, I am afraid the huge virus relief spending bill will deliver costly inflation.  The bill also appears to be just handing money out to everyone.  $1.9 trillion is not small change, and from what I read only 10% of the money goes for pandemic relief.  The rest is just a handout to buy support and votes.  Here are some examples where the money goes.

  1. $300 million to the Endowment for the Arts
  2. $300 million to Endowment for the Humanities
  3. $300 million to migrant and refugee assistance
  4. $10,000 per student for loan bailout
  5. $300 million to public broadcasting
  6. $500 million to museums and libraries.
  7. $35 million to the JFK Center for Performing Arts
  8. $300 million for international disaster assistance

The list goes on and on.  Our debt level has exploded since the pandemic and we need to have some spending discipline.  I admit that there are those that can use the money, but do our taxpayers have to satisfy everyone’s wish list?  There are countries that are deep in debt that are starting to impose a wealth tax.  Argentina and other South American countries are taking the lead.  Is this what the U.S. will need to do?

President Biden has pledged to bring about bipartisanship to bring the country back together.  The way the bill is written now it will not get any Republican votes.  Even President Obama’s former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Sommers thinks the bill is too expensive.

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.