House and Senate farm bill conferees used the first and possibly only public meeting Wednesday to once again articulate their differences on agriculture and nutrition policy, but the tone was conciliatory and congressional farm leaders made plans to continue negotiations next week even though the House is out of session.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., all expressed hope that the conference committee will be able to keep control of the farm bill and finish it this year.
“We face daunting challenges, we are working in a complicated environment, we have to draft a very technical bill,” Lucas said, but he added that the committee has the responsibility “to give people back home the tools to withstand the forces of nature and the markets” and to assist in “the struggle” that many Americans face as food consumers.
Stabenow noted that the conference provides “an unprecedented opportunity to show how to govern,” and many of the other 40 members of the conference expressed the same view during a two-hour-plus session at which all the conferees had an opportunity to make opening statements.
There have been concerns that the farm bill, which has been pending for two years, might be taken over by the larger budget negotiations, but Stabenow, who is also serving on that conference committee, said, “The Budget Committee will not be writing the farm bill. We will write, we will edit, we will offer responsible cuts.”
Lucas said budget negotiators are welcome to use the farm-bill savings in their calculations but added, “You can’t have our money if you don’t take our policy.”
Members repeated their well-documented views on farm policy, but one new piece of information emerged when Stabenow noted that on Friday the expiration of special Recovery Act food-stamp benefits will result in savings that will total $11 billion over the next three years.
Stabenow said the $11 billion cut could be used to help forge a compromise on the funding level for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for food stamps. The Senate’s farm bill would reduce SNAP spending by $4 billion over 10 years while the House bill would cut food stamps by $39 billion over the same period.
“That $11 billion plus the $4 billion in cuts in the Senate bill mean that accepting the Senate nutrition title would result in a total of $15 billion in cuts in nutrition,” Stabenow said. She added that “the good news” is that the Congressional Budget Office has projected that “over 14 million people will no longer need temporary food help over the next few years because the economy is improving and they will be able to go back to work.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee in charge of nutrition, said he believes waste, fraud, and abuse should be eliminated in food stamps, but that he was intrigued by the information that Stabenow provided.
Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla. — who wrote the food-stamp work requirement amendment that House Republicans adopted on the floor even though it offended Democrats, and was the House Republican leadership’s appointee to the conference — noted that he was the only Floridian on the conference committee and spent most of his time talking about the needs of Florida farmers. Southerland noted, however, that he considered his amendment “commonsense” reform.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus who was appointed to the conference by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to defend food stamps, said she wants to convince the conference to “accept the link between farming and feeding.” Fudge also said she is as concerned about the size of the cut for food stamps in the House proposal as she is about the fact that the bill would authorize nutrition programs for only three years while farm programs are authorized for five. But Fudge also said she looks forward to a “collaborative conclusion.”
Cochran, who once served in the House, said he was impressed by “how very well behaved” the House members were and said they spoke on behalf of farmers and people in need “in a very meaningful way.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”