Farm bill impasse in Congress could cause prices of dairy products to skyrocket; the do-nothingest Congress in history; San Diego poised to lose state funding for construction projects; Issa’s witch hunts to continue; Obama thriftiest president since Eisenhower
Prices for a gallon of milk stand to rise from a current average of around $3.65 to $6 to $8 per gallon, according to a report in the NY Times. That’s because of an impasse in Congress (of course) that is stalling the passage of a new farm bill. The Senate has already passed its version of the bill last July. The House has yet to bring its own version to the floor.
Without a new farm bill, according to the report, the government would be forced to follow a farm law enacted in 1949 that would require the federal government to purchase milk at prices that would be determined by production costs…..from 1949. Adjusted for inflation and other factors, that would amount to more than double the current price. Keep in mind that production costs 60 years ago were a lot higher because milk production was done almost exclusively by hand.
If Congress fails to act (which is likely…..more on that later), then dairy companies would be forced to look for alternative sources for their milk, such as importing it from New Zealand.
“Congress needs to pass a comprehensive farm bill that helps farmers continue to feed the world, keeps food prices affordable and provides farmers some financial stability in the very unpredictable profession of farming,” said Rebecca Lentz, a spokeswoman for Land-o-Lakes, a dairy company based in Minnesota.
“This is a totally antiquated law that has nothing to do with farming conditions today,” Montana State University agriculture professor Vincent Smith told the Times. “It was put in as a poison pill to get Congress to pass a farm bill by scaring lawmakers with the prospect of higher support prices for milk and other agriculture products. Letting it go into effect for even a few months would be particularly disastrous for consumers and food processors.”
The most do-nothing Congress in U.S. since 1940’s
Harry Truman dubbed the 80th Congress (1947-48) as the “Do-Nothing Congress,” interestingly saying in a speech at San Diego’s Lane Field (former home of the Pacific Coast League Padres) Congress is “not interested in your welfare,” and urged San Diego to elect a Democrat to Congress in the upcoming election.
That do-nothing 80th Congress saw 906 bills passed into law.
The current 112th Congress is poised to finish its legislative session as the single least productive House of Representatives, having seen 219 bills signed into law with another 20 still working their way through the legislative process.
The 104th Congress (1995-1996) currently holds the distinction of being the least productive since the House Clerk’s office started keeping records in 1947, having passed 333 bills into law.
Hopes for getting that farm bill passed are growing dimmer by the minute. Better start stocking up on milk.
San Diego poised to lose state funding for water projects
In case you missed it (and I did, admittedly) this story from City Beat’s Kelly Davis caught my eye. The passage of Prop A in San Diego—the proposition that bans the requirement of project labor agreements on city projects—could cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in state grants and loans.
Last April, Governor Jerry Brown saw SB 829 signed into law. SB 829 says that any city that bans outright the use of PLA’s will no longer be eligible for state construction grants and loans. The Legislature passed the bill, Governor Brown signed it, and the law takes effect on Jan. 1.
The San Diego City Council has never voted to require a PLA.
The timing of SB 829 specifically targeted San Diego, designed to discourage the passage of Prop A in the June primary election. Prop A passed with just over 58% of the vote.
As of Jan. 1, a supervisor with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund told City Beat that they would no longer be able to execute loan agreements with San Diego, putting water infrastructure projects in jeopardy.
An opinion issued by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith seems to posit that the city will not, in fact, be affected by SB 829, and that a loophole written into Prop A will prevent a loss of state funding. Although I’m not a lawyer, his opinion seems nonsensical to me. He is essentially arguing that since one court ruled that the City of Vista could not be forced to follow state law in a project that involved only city funds, and another ruling that said since a project was being funded primarily through state funds, state law would prevail over municipal ability to exercise “home control” via its own charter, the state cannot force the city to follow state law where mixed funds are used. He seems to think that the state would be unable to refuse access to grants and loans.
Goldsmith goes on to further argue that the “exception clause” in Prop A protects the city, ensuring that it meets the requirements to receive state funding. The exception clause gives the city an out if state law requires a PLA. He says that since state law will never require the use of a PLA, the whole point is moot, and San Diego is covered.
My interpretation is that the state cannot prevent the project from proceeding with city funds, but it is under no obligation to augment that project in any way if its rules are not followed.
No lawsuit as of yet has been filed, and Mayor Filner is attempting to work with the governor to ensure San Diego does not lose out, using the ‘ol “Democratic mayor to Democratic governor to Democratic Legislature” routine.
Thank you Carl DeMaio for creating this mess in the first place.
One would think that after being absolutely humiliated during the last session of Congress—one where Issa’s heretical witch hunts proved to be about as fruitful as squeezing water from a rock—that North San Diego County Congressman Darrell Issa would tone down his act at least a little bit.
Apparently we’ll have no such luck, and San Diego can expect to be the lightning rod for controversy again for the next two years as Issa vows to keep up the pressure on the president.
In the last two years, Issa has accomplished exactly nothing except to prove what a complete farce the 112th Congress was. He conducted a massive investigation into “Fast and Furious,” hoping to prove that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was complicit in arming Mexican drug cartels with weapons purchased in the U.S. He found nothing untoward except a program that was started under the Bush administration that was poorly supervised by an agency without anybody at the helm—Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation hearings on any of the candidates that President Obama has nominated for the job, thus the ATF post has gone vacant for more than four years. No charges have resulted from the signature investigation of Issa’s tenure as head of the Congressional Oversight Committee.
Issa has also accused Attorney General Eric Holder of corruption, calling on numerous occasions for his firing. Holder is still in office, and Issa found no evidence of fraud or corruption in the Attorney General’s office.
During his investigation into the attack in Benghazi that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Issa leaked classified information to the public, putting more CIA operatives in danger.
Issa has been accused (rightfully) of politicizing his position and making it all about scoring political points instead of having a serious discussion on government policy.
“This president has been anything but transparent,” Issa said. “My job was not to make him a one-term president. My job was to make him live with his failures.”
How’s that worked out for ya, Darrell?
“Persistent scrutiny of the Obama administration, in cooperation with the work of citizen whistle blowers, has brought to light egregious spending across the government,” Issa said.
Yeah, right. Read on:
Government spending under Obama administration lowest since Eisenhower
About that assertion of massive government spending, Darrell…..
A new report released by Marketwatch portrays a “spending binge that never happened.”
While it’s true that government spending did increase by 17.9% during fiscal year 2009, and that Barack Obama was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2009, FY 2009 was the last year of the Bush administration, and thus cannot be attributed to Obama.
Spending growth under Obama has been at its lowest level in a generation at 1.4% per year. George W. Bush, in his two terms, saw spending growth of 7.1% and 8.1%, respectively. And Republican hero Ronald Reagan? In his first term, he oversaw spending growth of 8.7%.
And yet the fallacy of Democrats being binge spenders still persists……
If you haven’t read them already, I encourage you to read City Beat’s Dave Mass’ coverage of San Diego’s Birther judge, Gary Kreep. It’s still hard to fathom that the voters of this county actually elected this guy to sit on the bench. I’m guessing that his tenure will be short lived due to judicial misconduct, but we shall see.
Read the first installment here. The second installment here. And this guy want to be appointed to family court? I guess it’s a great choice if you’re rigidly in favor of “traditional family values.” Fundamentalist Christians absolutely thrilled! Oy vey…….
Anna Daniels says
Andy- well done on your posts this week! Maybe we will stop electing people who are anti-government and then spend their time breaking government once elected. Congress doesn’t suck- the Republicans/conservatives in congress suck. Speaking of the farm bill- that was the one with Roy Blunt’s anti-contraceptive amendment.
You forgot to mention Issa’s great day- convening a group of men to pontificate on access to (women’s) contraceptives. “Where are the women?” became a rallying cry in the past elections.
The 2014 elections will be something to behold. The radical insurgents on the right will get one more crack at wreaking havoc and mainstream Repugs are terrified ( see Mitch McConnell) ; and the left better be ready this time.
Andy Cohen says
DAMMIT! I knew I forgot something…..That’s what happens when I don’t write stuff down…..totally meant to include Issa’s hearing on contraceptives. Good catch!
Brent E. Beltran says
I wish I had this info on that Kreep prior to the election. I usually don’t vote for judges. I don’t want to give a vote to someone who might someday have to pass judgement on me. I would’ve voted against this Kreep and rallied everyone I know to do the same.
Jan Goldsmith says
Our opinion states: “The California Supreme Court has further held that the Legislature may not use its spending powers to control charter cities’ exercise of their constitutional right to control their municipal affairs. Sonoma County Org. of Pub. Employees v. County of Sonoma (1979) 23 Cal. 3d 296, 314-318.”
The contracting process has been held to be a “municipal affair”.
Maybe some day Americans will have to pay the true cost of a gallon of gasoline. Mr. Gallon of Gasoline is probably the most subsidized product in this country. And that’s without figuring in the cost of roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.