The immediate cause of the deadlock has been the insistence of Senate Republicans on their right to introduce a series of politically explosive tax and immigration amendments that Democrats deem not relevant. Harkin said yesterday that these include changes in the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, and a ban on issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
When I say that there needs to be changes to the Farm Bill, this is not what I had in mind. When I say that I want changes to the Farm Bill I would like to see changes that make healthy food less expensive than a Twinkie. I want this graph on one of those ridiculously big posters used in Congressional debates.
But rather than, Republicans are trying to add immigration stuff and all sorts of other things that have nothing to do with farming or food stamps. Bush is going to veto it anyway so why the Republicans are tacking on random stuff is a little confusing. Holding up the Farm Bill, with or without the kind of changes I would like to see is generally a bad idea. It just doesn't play well, the idea that you are "turning you back on rural America" just can't be spun well.
Really, the farm bill needs to be reworked so that the money is flowing in a way that actually encourages small farmers and farmers that grow food that is good for us and not simply made into high fructose corn syrup. Large Agribuisnesses that pretend to represent small farmers need to be called on their deception.