Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
There has been some, but not much news coverage about a massive farm bill before Congress. Essentially, the bill contains two parts: Reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, or as everyone recognizes, food stamps; and the actual agricultural policy for the United States.
Reforms contained in the bill are few, and so it manages to spend over $100 billion every year. No wonder conservatives call it a disaster. Even the not-at-all conservative Associated Press reports the bill is loaded up:
“There are goodies scattered through the bill for members from all regions of the country: a boost in money for crop insurance popular in the Midwest; higher cotton and rice subsidies for Southern farmers; renewal of federal land payments for Western states...
“Negotiators on the final deal also left out a repeal of a catfish program that would have angered Mississippi lawmakers and language that would have thwarted a California law requiring all eggs sold in the state to come from hens living in larger cages. Striking out that provision was a priority for California lawmakers who did not want to see the state law changed.”
Despite the typical “sky is falling” reporting that hungry food stamp recipients are being tossed into snow banks without a lifeline, the truth is the 959-word bill does away with "categorical eligibility" to the food stamp program. Under “categorical eligibility,” food stamp recipients got a short cut. They weren’t required the minor technicality (tongue in cheek) of proving their income eligibility for food stamps. Doing away with “categorical eligibility” will reportedly save $800 million per year. On a $70 billion program, that’s a paltry savings of about 1%. How utterly mean and cruel.
One of the oldest clichés in politics is, “The devil is in the details.”
One of the oldest tricks in politics is to tuck, bury, and hide provisions in humongous bills that you want approved but with no attention.
Such is the case with the latest mega piece of farm legislation. Here’s a blatant example:
That’s an 18-foot California Baby Redwood Artificial Christmas tree (based on the really big trees out west) that sells for $5,999.00. We all know, of course, there are bargains available.
And then you have the age-old tradition of chopping down a real, bona-fide, honest to goodness REAL tree.
Work with me, readers. What’s on your mind right now? Where to eat the fish fry this week? I hate this $#*%@* winter? I still can’t sign up for ObamaCare? Good grief, I forgot her Valentine! OMG, that figure skater is drop dead gorgeous!
Christmas? Christmas trees? Not on your list? Of course not.
Enter the above-mentioned political playbook. Take an idea that might ruffle feathers and sneak it into a colossal piece of legislative junk. Like a tax to promote the sale of live Christmas trees. From the Deseret News:
“The tax (yes, I know proponents say it really is a fee, but c’mon) would collect 15 cents for every live tree sold. In return, a board would be established to figure out ways to promote live Christmas tree sales.”
Reality check from the same newspaper columnist...
“Let’s be honest, here. The 15 cents is no big deal and probably won’t add much to the cost of a tree. This isn’t about the money. It is, however, about the proper role of government and the free market.”
Might I add, a tax is a tax is a tax.
Liberals will find any way possible to use their favorite from their own playbook. Nothing is sacred or off-limits.