President Bush isn't running for president again. He can't. And while there are millions of Americans well satisfied with that fact alone (just 28% of Americans approve of the job he's doing), it is proving to be useful in one very specific political fight this season: Reform of the Farm Bill.
In short, Bush doesn't have to pander to rich farmers, and their lobbyists, for votes this November, which is what the Farm Bill is still doing. Despite that it's a relic of the Great Depression. Despite that many of its biggest beneficiaries are millionaires, or dead. Despite that the subsidies are part of the equation that has given us an obesity epidemic (and that high-fructose corn syrup is on seemingly every ingredient list on every shelf in every grocery aisle in the land).
The $300 billion farm bill negotiated by Congress has some modest improvements, like some money for organic foods research and the like, but it's heavily compromised by hand-outs to the same set of rich, lucky farmers as in past years. And it spends 7% more, according to the White House.
Not for nothing, if Congress can't get a farm bill right at a time when there's a worldwide food crisis, farm profits and farmland values are at record highs, the weather has been relatively kind to the United States, and the market for crop-based fuels is growing, it can't ever get it right. Bush is right to threaten a veto.
The Lame Duck can cut the pork, and that's a good thing. Unless Democrats and Republicans alike conspire to override that veto at the behest of their political benefactors.
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