[eDebate] Agriculture Uniqueness; The return of "overrules now"

brian rubaie brubaie
Fri Apr 25 16:05:36 CDT 2008

Scare people? I don't think I could scare people if I tried. I thought 'the
return of overrules now' was a nice touch for people who have had the blank
words 'Ag' and 'Russia' all over their inboxes. I also thought it might draw
an extra reader or two. Considering that I've raised these issues before and
this is the first time you responded suggests to me that using a non-boring
subject line wasn't a bad idea.

The major points are these --

1) There will be cuts and there will be compromises. Everyone seems to agree
the 2007 Farm Bill will pass, but we can all also agree that it won't be
without some major revisions in the conference committee. That $16bn that
went overboard has to come from somewhere. It likely won't come from food
stamps or nutrition assistance because those are key Congressional interests
that were added to the President's proposal. The President won't sign a bill
that is $16bn over. Compromises will have to be made.

2) There is support for cutting subsidies. It comes from Bush, Conner, and
Harkin and the Farmers Trade Union supports the revenue assurance program.
It is a possibility, and one that wasn't addressed in either the topic paper
or your latest post. I never said it was definite, the article doesn't say
it will be definite, but it is one possible compromise which can be reached.

3) This debate is important. It is not as black and white as either Bryan
Grayson or I will purport it to be. However, the nature of our evidence
(speculative) and the possibility of major revisions to the Farm Bill
(probable) should be cause for some concern. I am not trying to scare
anyone: it would not ruin the topic. It would, however, make significant
dents to important generics like politics.

"The closest he has is a card quoting one person suggesting that cutting
> subsidies would be the most drastic option that Congress could consider in
> the farm bill negotiations. It does not conclude that Congress is seriously
> considering this option."

The most dramatic option? It says it is the biggest option, far from the
suggestion that it is the least realistic. The fact that the National
Farmers Union supports the proposal makes it seem slightly more realistic.

> "Also, his evidence about Bush still pushing for subsidy cuts doesn't
> mention subsidies, it is talking about food stamp programs in the farm bill.
> Even if subsidies were to get cut, they would only be trimmed by a few
> billion dollars from what I've read, which amounts to practically nothing
> when you consider the fact that we subsidize agriculture to the tune of over
> $300 billion a year. And the remaining disputes in farm bill negotiations
> are about things like nutrition programs and food stamps, not subsidies. The
> chances of the conference committee making an eleventh hour decision to make
> massive subsidy cuts is virtually zero."

Absolutely correct. If anything I ever posted gave the impression that I
thought all subsidies were ending, I'll be clear now: all subsidies won't
end. Most subsidies won't end.

But the subsidies being small in terms of dollars means nothing to most DAs,
which already have difficulty generating a link threshold.

> "There were fiscal conservatives that pushed for subsidy cuts in both
> houses of Congress. But congressional leaders knew those bills couldn't
> pass, so any meaningful cuts were stripped from the bills. Even in the
> extremely unlikely scenario that the conference committee tries to make cuts
> to commodity programs, the conference bill has to get approved by both
> houses of Congress, which won't happen if it includes subsidy cuts. Bush
> originally proposed cuts in subsidies. And both houses of Congress handily
> rejected his proposal by passing bills that increased subsidies."

The evidence I posted suggests the same. In fact, I posted the "subsidies
increasing" evidence first to give people reading a fair assessment of what
is occurring now. The Congress is ALSO boldly asserting nutrition, food
stamps, etc. in the face of Bush pressure. They will have to budge on one of

> "Even assuming the worst case scenario that some subsidies get cut, they
> would only be commodity subsidies, which is just a fraction of the
> affirmatives discussed in the controversy paper."

True in the first instance (Congress cuts subs) but not in the second (they
revise subs payments). The choice to end direct payments and shift to
revenue assistance would effect all subsidies.

The problems I mentioned before regarding link thresholds are still relevant
here. "That was just a commodity subsidy" may be an effective 2N response on
an economy DA; much less so on important generics like politics.

Additionally, the article you suggested on the veto below mentions that
these commodity subsidies would effect several cornerstones of the topic --
"For one thing...commodities have become a much more attractive investment
as demand has soared. And the subsidies Congress is handing out are making
those commodities even more lucrative...that means they'll buy more
equipment, fertilizer, and seeds. So Wall Street is eyeing investments in
agribusiness, machinery, and biofuels."

Again, I am not disputing that there is some uniqueness for the core areas
of the topic. Rather, I am contesting the suggestion by Bricker, Cormack,
and Quigley that the uniqueness direction is both stable and universal on

> "As for the concern about the Bush veto, when it comes to vetoes it is
> usually a safe bet that Bush is all talk and won't follow through. Sure he's
> vetoed a few bills. But the likelihood of him vetoing a massive farm bill
> that is overwhelmingly supported by farm lobbies is unlikely. It would not
> help Republicans in November. This article concludes Bush's veto threat
> isn't credible:
> http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/04/24/farm_bill."

The article concludes: "President Bush says he's ready to veto the bill,
without some significant spending cuts. But some here are already starting
to doubt that pledge." It makes the same sort of assertion the "no cut subs
in an election year" article makes. It would be hard to tell a united
Congress no, but what does Bush have to lose?

The question is whether there is anything to suggest that Bush will spend an
extra $16bn on the Farm Bill. Considering the threat to veto has been
maintained since September, it seems more than casual bluffing.

> "Finally, a Bush veto will not mean that subsidies disappear and don't get
> renewed. It would only mean a reversion to 2002 farm policy. I don't think
> this is disastrous for the topic. There would be still be a substantially
> more in depth debates about agricultural policy than occurred on the Europe
> topic."

There is no doubt whether we'd go more in depth this time around.The
question is whether it is reasonable to debate the 2002 Farm Bill twice.

I consider the probability of the 2002 Farm Bill being enacted to be very,
very low. I'll make that even clearer lest I be accused of scare tactics.

> "The potential problem Rubaie points out is nothing close to comparable to
> the overrules uniqueness problem he references. A resolution can easily be
> written to ensure that the aff must make big subsidy cuts and therefore a
> substantial shift from the status quo. Nobody thinks big subsidy cuts are
> coming now.
> Lots of articles indicate that farm bill negotiations are nearing the final
> stage and likely to wrap up in the coming weeks. Once that happens farm
> policy will be locked in for around five years. Any "global uniqueness"
> problems for an agricultural topic are substantially less than those that
> would exist on Russia, as others have already pointed out."

It is highly comparable to "overrules now." Those overrules almost always
effected small sectors of a mechanism. They were by no means controversial
(perhaps Hamdan aside). Yet, they still effected generic links. The same is
true of "commodity subs reduction now." It may not effect a DA that relies
upon the affirmative reversing a core controversy, but it does substantially
diminish the risk of the link.

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