Bush to veto farm bill, despite the futility

posted at 2:00 pm on May 21, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

How badly have Republican fortunes foundered? George Bush will try to teach the GOP in Congress on fiscal discipline today with a veto of the bloated farm bill passed last week. Unfortunately, no one expects the veto to hold:

The White House said Wednesday that President Bush will veto the recently passed farm bill sometime during the day, but conceded that the overwhelming vote count means a veto override is “likely.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino could not say for sure when the veto would come, adding that the president would continue to work with members of Congress to try to sustain his move.

That said, Perino acknowledged that the large margins by which the bill passed indicate the veto will not hold.

Only 15 Senators voted against this bill, and 106 Representatives followed suit. That won’t be nearly enough to prevent a veto override for the package of subsidies and pork that commanded the approval of the majority of Republicans in both chambers. Meanwhile, the package looks even worse than it did before it got sent to the White House:

A major new program in the recently enacted farm bill could increase taxpayer-financed payments to farmers by billions of dollars if high commodity prices decline to more typical levels, administration and congressional budget officials said yesterday.

The potential costs came to light as administration officials pored over details of the 673-page, $307 billion legislation. President Bush has promised to veto the measure, which he called “bloated.” The House and Senate passed the bill by bipartisan margins large enough to override him unless dozens of lawmakers switch sides. …

But fellow Republican Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), a strong critic of the new farm bill, accused House and Senate negotiators of “unbelievable gall.”

“I don’t think any of us had a clue this was in there. It was simply dropped into the conference report,” he said.

What a shock! This is what usually happens when Republicans and Democrats work in a bipartisan fashion on spending bills. They cut themselves hefty slices of pork, stick it to the taxpayer, and insert it into legislation in the most cowardly fashion possible.

Meanwhile, Tom Cole and John Boehner are set to announce yet another plan to save the GOP from itself:

After a week of tension and recriminations following a special election loss in Mississippi, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and NRCC Chairman Tom Cole will unveil a series of changes Wednesday aimed at quelling criticism and positioning their party for November’s elections.

Cole is expected to add veteran Republican political operative Ed Brookover to his staff as a consultant and liaison with lawmakers, GOP insiders said. Brookover, who served as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s executive director from 1995 to 1999, has close ties to Boehner, Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Florida, according to one GOP aide. …

The moves represent a modest détente between Cole and Boehner, but they might not be enough to mollify a restive party rife with fears that November 2008 will be a replay of November 2006.

At this rate, a replay of 2006 might be the best they can muster. Want a plan that convinces Americans that you understand the lesson of 2006? Start by upholding the veto on this bloated cheeseburger of a farm bill. When George Bush tells you that you’re overspending, it’s like W. C. Fields taking your car keys at a party.


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