5:53 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By JAY COST
Chuck Todd of NBC News is traveling the country, talking to voters, and generally filing interesting reports. But in his report on Arkansas, he repeats a familiar, and false, trope:
Cotton looks poised to win in the state, but if you're trying to figure out why he hasn't put this race away yet, one thing that can't be ignored is his vote against the farm bill. It came up in our talk with Arkansas farmers here -- who were less Pryor Democrats than Clinton Republicans. If it were a disqualifying issue for Cotton, he'd be losing, but it is certainly something that's resonated in a negative way. This is a conservative state, but it's not one that's anti-federal government the way some other Southern states are (or at least are stereotyped to be.) These folks want to be a partner with government.
Two major points about the Farm Bill that Todd ignores.
First, it does little to help the average Arkansan. The Farm Bill is loaded with payoffs that accrue primarily to the wealthiest farmers in the country. Moreover, even the benefits distributed to rich farms usually do not go to the workers who run the farms, the people who supply those farms with equipment, feed, or seed -- or generally anybody with elastic inputs to contribute to the farm economy. Subsidies increase prices temporarily, but these only only induce new people to enter the market, so existing suppliers just end up facing stiffer competition, which drives prices back down.
So, the farm bill helps one group of people: those who own the land. To be more specific, it helps people who owned the land when the subsidies were increased. They collect windfall profits. Later buyers of the land end up paying more because the subsidies drive up the price they must pay.
Second, it is a massive logroll that has become a less and less good deal for rural America. What do you suppose the average Arkansan thinks of the extraordinary increase in food stamp participation over the last six years? I’ll bet dollars to donuts that these voters do not like it. Well, guess where it comes from? The Farm Bill. Since the 1970s food stamps and farm subsidies have been intertwined in the Farm Bill. They have no logical relationship to one another; they are rather combined for purely political purposes. That is, linking them together creates a logroll that protects parochial interests that could probably not survive a straight up or down vote on the House or Senate floor.
All in all, the Farm Bill is a terrible deal for rural people. The benefits their communities accrue are targeted narrowly, to the most wealthy landowners. Moreover, an enormous amount of their tax dollars are spent on a broken and wasteful food stamp program.
In fact, it is worse than useless. Already isolated and often vulnerable, rural communities in this country have been going through a decades-long, painful process of economic and social contraction. The federal government is too resource-strapped to help these places in part because they waste untold billions on the terrible Farm Bill.
The matter cannot be stated more bluntly: The Farm Bill is such a lopsided deal for rural people that the entire House delegation of Kansas voted against it earlier this year. This is the same Kansas that was at the very center of the farmers’ revolt in the 1880s and 1890s. ‘nuff said.
I am putting the final edits on a book about political corruption. Chapter Nine is dedicated entirely to the Farm Bill. It is a metaphor for everything that is wrong with Washington, D.C. It is wasteful, unfair, and counterproductive to American agriculture.
That Tom Cotton voted against this monstrosity signals only one thing: he is not in hock to the special interest groups that love it. Every fair minded voter -- liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican -- should be glad about that.
Jay Cost is a staff writer for the Weekly Standard. His new book, A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of Political Corruption, will be released by Encounter Books on February 10, 2015.
1:15 PM, Oct 29, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tom Cotton, the Republican candidate for Senate from Arkansas, is calling on President Obama to renounce the "vulgar" attack on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu which was expressed by an anonymous administration official in a recent Atlantic article.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Oct 14, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on ebola in the U.S., the administration's response, and how ebola is impacting close senate races in 2014.
12:25 PM, Sep 25, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Rep. Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee in the Arkansas Senate race, is running an ad highlighting his leadership in trying to fix Washington's broken farm bill legislation. The ad isn't particularly controversial ormaking false claims, in any discernible way and yet "fact checkers" at the Washington Post and PolitiFact have pretty savagely attacked it. Once again, the fact checkers are wrong on the merits. But more than that, there's something very fishy about their Cotton critique.
You can watch the whole ad, but here's the supposedly objectionable claim Cotton makes:
“When President Obama hijacked the farm bill, turned it into a food stamp bill, with billions more in spending, I voted no. Career politicians love attaching bad ideas to good ones. Then the bad ideas become law, and you pay for it.”
As far as legislative sausage-making goes, there are few spectacles more off-putting than Capitol Hill's periodic farm bill extravaganza. The farm subsidies are bad enough on their own, but for decades the bill has also included funding for the unrelated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps. The result is the worst kind of bipartisanship—rural Republicans compromise on bloating the cost of food stamp funding in exchange for Democratic votes to get their farm subsidies.
12:41 PM, Sep 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Mark Pryor did not own a home in Arkansas, the state he represents in Washington, during his first four years in the U.S. Senate. And now it appears he lives part-time at the Washington, D.C. home of his brother, a top lobbyist for Microsoft.
Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Republican voters are down on the sluggish GOP officials they elected, and the officeholders whine about the unreasonable people who voted for them. Republican backbenchers complain about their lame leaders, and GOP leaders grumble about their unruly followers. Right-wing pundits despair of unimaginative Republican pols, and the hard-headed pols are impatient with impractical commentators. Conservative activists loathe the GOP establishment, and the establishment is terrified and contemptuous of the base.
3:41 PM, Sep 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Congressman Tom Cotton, the Republican running for Senate in Arkansas, blasts his Democratic opponent, Mark Pryor, for refusing to debate foreign policy issue.
The fall of the Arkansas Democrats.Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02 • By FRED BARNES
In 1949, Harvard political scientist V. O. Key Jr. declared in his book Southern Politics in State and Nation that in Arkansas “we have the one-party system in its most undefiled and undiluted form.” Other Southern states, nearly as Democratic in those days as Arkansas, gradually became Republican. Arkansas didn’t. One-party Democratic rule in the state lasted another 60 years.
12:52 PM, Sep 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas's largest newspaper, has an editorial criticizing Democratic senator Mark Pryor and praising his Republican challenger, congressman Tom Cotton. Here's an excerpt:
Going all-negative, all the time against Tom Cotton. Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By FRED BARNES
"Tom Cotton voted against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola,” a TV ad in Arkansas declared last week. The ad came from Democrat Mark Pryor, who is running for reelection to the Senate. Cotton, a House member, is his Republican opponent in the November 4 election. The ad failed to mention that after voting against an early version of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, Cotton voted for the bill once a provision he objected to was removed.
2:14 PM, Aug 26, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The latest attack ad from the Mark Pryor campaign is, well, absurd. Here's Politico's description of the 30-second spot: "Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is citing the recent scare over the Ebola virus in a new attack ad against his GOP opponent, the first mention of America’s preparedness for a possible pandemic in a 2014 political advertisement."
Pryor: "We have a much more secure border today than we did ten years ago."1:56 PM, Aug 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
For the most part, Republican candidates for Congress have been quiet about the immigration crisis on the border, with a few exceptions. But Rep. Tom Cotton, the GOP Senate candidate in Arkansas, has put his Democratic opponent's support for amnesty for illegal immigrants at the center of his new TV ad.