Last week the House passed the farm bill 318-106, a veto-proof majority. President Bush had threatened to veto, but many Republicans joined almost all Democrats in voting yes.
I noticed that only two Democrats within a 1000 mile drive of Boston – and that covers a lot of Democrats – voted No: Dennis Kucinich (Cleveland, OH), and my Representative, Michael Capuano, who represents Cambridge, Somerville, and a portion of Boston. I called his office to find out why he had voted no when the rest of our region’s Democrats voted yes.
What are your thoughts on the farm bill, the value of compromises made this time around, and Democratic support for it?
Capuano’s aide described many of the same problems with the farm bill that Michael Pollan talks about, and she directed me to this NY Times editorial: A Disgraceful Farm Bill. The NY Times is calling on Bush to veto it anyway, despite the veto-proof margin. Who knows, if Bush still had some credibility or popular reputation, such a veto might help organize against the bill and get Congress not to overturn, but he doesn’t so it’d be pointless.
Why did Democrats in general vote for it? According to the aid I spoke to, it was because this compromise bill included increased spending for nutrition. Although Capuano felt its reforms were too mild to support, perhaps other northeastern Democrats felt it was the best we could get?
What about being on the same side as Bush? Yeah, she admitted, this is one of the few times where his position is right: We’re wasting too much money subsidizing profitable agribusinesses. Of course, this is one of those rare times where one can be on the same side of an issue with both Bush and Dennis Kucinich, so it’s an unusual case.