Well I think we could all use a good long cry after reading some of these proposals.
So originally we were just going to do a simple news story about the proposed $20.9 billion House Republican agriculture budget they introduced on Monday. But after reading some of the recommendations made, ehhh… a few things have to be highlighted.
Regulation of the Derivatives Market
Usually with agricultural budgets, it’s a type of budget where politicians debate over things like nutrition rules or food safety programs. Not to the regulation of the derivatives market.
Ok first some back story. Back in the heady days of 2006 life was good. Housing market was doing gang busters, people had gainful employment, and this wasn’t the reaction when you heard names like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Life was good. But then the housing market crashed causing a massive economic recession. Because of this, things like the Dobb-Frank law were passed to create regulation and to deter stuff like this from happening. And that’s why the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) started transitioning into a more regulatory body after the Dodd-Frank law in 2010. For those not in the know, the CFTC regulates the derivatives market. Because of this, many pro-business lobbyists and Republicans alike have fought many of the commission’s standards.
Since then, the Obama Administration has tried to implement Wall Street reforms that were promised after the 2008 Recession, but have been met with great resistance from numerous Wall Street lobbyists. In the House Republican’s proposed agriculture budget, they do set aside a considerable amount for the CFTC ($218 million). But it’s still $62 million short of the Obama Administration’s request. And if you look at it more closely, it’s only a $3 million increase for information technology investments. Essentially Republicans are trying to defang – to a certain extent – the CFTC’s regulatory reach by underfunding them.
Ok granted not everybody loves government regulation regarding derivatives. But considering that most economists blame over-the-counter derivatives market as one of the major sources of financial instability during the recession, is a little regulation really all that terrible?
Rural Schools Only Fools!
The budget also asks for a waiver process that would allow local school districts, that couldn’t afford to meet nutrition standards, to implement it in their school lunch and breakfast programs. That is a perfectly normal, if not a great idea. What’s weird is that the language for the bill specifies only rural areas would benefit from these programs, which includes a program that would provide lunches for low-income children during the summer months. When asked why, many Republicans insist that it’s a pilot program specifically targeted to rural areas only. Because as we all know, low-income urban children do not have a disadvantage when it comes to education.
Women and Potatoes
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income mothers. To many it’s the golden standard of government sponsored nutrition programs. The budget asks for white starchy potatoes to be added to WIC supplemental feeding program. This is less of a “this would be good policy for new born children and mothers” and more like the potato lobby – and before you ask, yes that is a thing – being like, “hey you know what women don’t eat anymore? Potatoes. We should try to sell more potatoes!” The National Potato Council believes that by getting into the WIC, it could be used as a market tool.
I honestly never thought I’d have legitimate beef with the National Potato Council. But here we are. I guess all there’s let to say is…