Democrat Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the agricultural budget plan okayed Wednesday by Republicans strips billions of dollars from farm and conservation programs in order to reward rich Americans with more tax cuts. Harkin says the proposal, which narrowly passed the Senate Ag Committee, would cut three-billion dollars from farmers and others while adding perhaps 35-billion dollars to the deficit over the next five years.
Harkin says the deficit would be further raised because there’s 70-billion dollars in new tax cuts, largely to the wealthy. “To make room for the tax cuts, they’re cutting about 35-billion dollars out of programs for working Americans, our family farmers, students, seniors on fixed incomes and the poor.” Harkin says the Republicans claim they’re making tough choices in order to best allocate the money, but he says those claims “ring hollow.”
Harkin says “Their idea of making tough choices is to ask middle-class low-income families to sacrifice essential benefits to make room for yet another round of tax give-aways for America’s most-privileged. It’d be one thing if we were cutting to reduce the deficit, but I refuse to be part of a charade that cuts three-billion dollars from family farmers and conservation programs in order to make room for 70-billion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest.”
The Conservation Security Program, or C-S-P, which Harkin authored in the 2002 farm bill, faces a 30-percent cut in funds over the next five years. Harkin and other Democrats lost another battle Wednesday, an effort to raise the minimum wage from five-15 an hour to six-25. The current minimum wage was set in 1997. Harkin calls the defeat an outrage. Harkin says “This is unconscionable what we’re doing around here. People ought to be up at arms. Every time I think about it. We can’t even raise the minimum wage, but my gosh, can we give tax breaks to the wealthiest in our country, lavish it on them. This place is screwed up around here.”
Harkin says “There is a lot of talk around Washington about cutting the budget to reign in the Bush Administration’s runaway deficits. We need fiscal responsibility, but the agriculture funding cuts are part of a budget plan that worsens the deficit. Republicans are paying lip service to the deficit, but their goal is passing more tax breaks for the wealthiest.”