By Jon H. Harsch
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, April 5 – Promising a “Path to Prosperity,” House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled a fiscal 2012 budget proposal Tuesday which “Stops Washington from spending money it does not have on government programs that do not work.” Using a broad sweep of program cuts and reforms, the budget forecasts that government spending would be reduced by $5.8 trillion over ten years compared to current levels.
House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan explains his budget plan Tuesday. Photo: Agri-Pulse.
Under the subtitle of “Ending Corporate Welfare,” the GOP budget proposal calls for “Aligning agricultural programs with economic reality.” The proposal states that “Against the backdrop of an overall economy that is recovering slowly, the American agricultural sector is racing ahead.The record-breaking prosperity of American farmers and farm communities is to be celebrated. But it also calls for a re-examination of federal agricultural programs that spend billions each year, to ensure that taxpayers aren’t funding support for a sector that is more than capable of thriving on its own.”
The budget concludes that at a time of surging commodity prices and high farm income, farm support programs need to be adjusted “to reflect economic realities.” Accordingly, “This budget proposes two major reforms to achieve this: First, reduce the fixed [direct] payments that go to farmers irrespective of price levels, to reflect that soaring commodity prices are reducing the need for high levels of farm-income support. Second, reform the open-ended nature of the government’s support for crop insurance, so that agricultural producers assume the same kind of responsibility for managing risk that other businesses do.”
The budget document says deciding the detail will be up to the House Agriculture Committee and “assumes that these savings do not take effect until the beginning of the next  farm bill.” But the budget plan forecasts that its proposals to cut both farm program direct payments and USDA's crop insurance premium subsidy “will save taxpayers nearly $30 billion over the next decade.”
In a press conference later Tuesday, House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., blasted the Ryan proposal as a “rigid ideological agenda that extends tax cuts to the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of America.” Van Hollen said Democrats agree on the need to reduce the federal deficit but said “it is not courageous to protect tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies, and other big money special interests while slashing our investments in education, ending the current health care guarantees for seniors on Medicare, and denying health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans.”
To read Congressman Ryan's 73-page “Path to Prosperity” budget for fiscal 2012 or summaries, click HERE.
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