Secretary Johanns on the Farm Bill’s Tax Increase

By July 28, 2007General

The USDA has already posted a transcript of Ag Secretary Mike Johanns’ speech Friday at the National Press Club. Johanns offered a devastating critique of the sudden, surprise tax increase tacked onto the farm bill reauthorization as unprecedented, bad policy and bad politics. (We have previously commented on the tax increase on foreign investment here, here and here.)

Johanns’ speech — written at the last minute in response to developments — warrants wide distribution as a powerful rebuke of the wrong strategy, the wrong SUBSTANCE, House advocates embraced in passing the legislation.

Final point on the tax policy itself, these are companies that have come to the United States; they have built manufacturing plants, oftentimes that employ rural residents, and provide jobs.

Now maybe there is somebody out there that says, you know, Mike, I still think we should tax these folks. Okay. How do we go about doing that in our system? We put a bill in, we go to the Ways and Means Committee, we have a hearing. People come in from a group like this and they say, “We don’t think you should do it because here are the ramifications. You’re going to abrogate 58 treaties that are out there.” And other groups come in and say, “No, I think we should tax them!” And we air it in the bright light of day. And then the Ways and Means Committee takes a vote, and then it’s sent to the House floor where it’s debated, and everybody gets a fair shot.

Now let me compare this process, which I think is a very honorable process, to what happened. This got brought over, rolled into a rule, no public hearing before the Ways and Means Committee, and it was acted upon. Acted upon under what circumstances? The passage of a Farm Bill. What! The passage of a Farm Bill. That’s how this came, this very important issue involving international relations and treaties and tax policy and U.S. jobs was acted upon in a rule for the Farm Bill.

No airing, no public hearing before Ways and Means.

It’s just not the way we should be doing business. It is just not the way to fund a Farm Bill, and it’s never been done before. It’s remarkable, it’s historic, and I might add not in a positive way.

Read the whole thing.

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