Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama deficit plan would cut farm subsidies, let Postal Service end Saturday mail delivery

President Obama's deficit-reduction plan includes major cuts in agriculture programs, $33 billion over 10 years. It would eliminate direct payments to farmers and reduce subsidies to crop-insurance companies. It would also authorize the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail only five days a week; USPS wants to eliminate Saturday delivery, an idea opposed by rural interests and newspapers.

While his overall proposal to the joint congressional committee formed to reduce the national debt is unlikely to pass, Obama's proposal sets markers for the negotiations and his re-election campaign. "The proposals provide a road map for cutting farm spending," writes Philip Brasher of the Gannett Washington Bureau. Obama said he "remains committed to a strong safety net for farmers, one that protects them from revenue losses that result from low yields or price declines, and strong crop insurance programs. But there are programs and places where funding is unnecessary or too generous."

On direct payments to grain and cotton farmers, recently been targeted by budget cutters, Obama said taxpayers continue to subsidize "farmers who are experiencing record yields and prices," and noted that "more than 50 percent of direct payments go to farmers with more than $100,000 in income." He added, "Economists have shown that direct payments have priced young Americans out of renting or owning the land needed to enter into farming."

Obama also proposes to cut conservation funding by $2 billion over 10 years, citing "the dramatic increase in funding (roughly 500 percent since enactment of the Farm Security and Rural Investments Act of 2002)," which he said has created redundancies and "difficulties in program administration." The agricultural cuts are on Pages 17 and 18 of the PDF proposal.

In addition to authorizing five-day mail delivery, on Page 23, Obama would address the USPS deficit by restructuring the funding of its its retiree health benefits, refund almost $7 billion it has paid into the system recently, allow the service "to offer non-postal products and increase collaboration with state and local governments" and allow it "to better align the costs of postage with the costs of mail delivery while still operating within the current price cap, and permit USPS to seek the modest one-time increase in postage rates it proposed a year ago." For opposing statements from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and a mailers' lobby, click here. For a story from The Associated Press, click here.

At the Interior Department, money would be gained with a fee on non-producing oil and gas leases, reform hardrock-mining leases and other measures, listed on Pages 31-32. For the White House summary sheet of the entire plan, click here.


Anonymous said...

If we all would practice sustainable living, so much of our disparities would start to fix themselves. growing our own food systems would not only employ alot more people, cultivating gardens is a wonderful way to give children back their health. Life spans are on their way back down again, this time it is because of the way we eat. Sustainable agriculture could make this country thrive again. It is an obvious solution to many problems.

Manoli de casa rural riopar said...

I think Obama will make a big mistake. It is not the way to improve the situation.
Greetings from Riopar (Spain)