Corporate welfare reform

Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, has prided himself on being in the forefront of conservative legislators’ efforts to reform welfare by kicking more and more recipients off the dole. Herger noted earlier this year that the 1996 reforms have proven “we can help more parents work, reduce dependence on government benefits, cut poverty and still protect taxpayers’ interests at the same time.”

Herger surely must support, then, President Bush’s budget proposal to cut billions of dollars by reducing federal subsidy payments to the nation’s farmers. Bush’s plan would also ask Congress to cut 5 percent from all farm payments—corporate welfare, according to critics—and close loopholes that allow large-scale abuse of the current subsidy system.

We wouldn’t be surprised, however, to see Herger, whose district includes a lot of farm-subsidy recipients, choose not to support the president’s proposal and join fellow Republicans in Congress who are pushing for cuts to food and nutrition programs for the poor instead.

It should come down to which program is the ripest for financial abuse and who gets hurt the most when cuts are made. We would guess the subsidy program that has provided local rice farmers with millions of dollars has more fat to cut; at the same time, millions of single mothers have had to make do with diminishing public help.

We call on Herger, in the name of welfare reform, to support the farm-subsidy cuts.