It might be going out on a limb, but it's probably safe to say that if you're like most, while the pumpkin pie is long gone, there's still turkey leftovers sitting in your refrigerator this week. And if you're willing to hang on to it a little longer it'll end up as turkey soup in a few days.
And if Thanksgiving dinner is a metaphor for how things get done around Washington--all of the sweet things, the issues that make good press back home and are easy to swallow have been taken care of--and all that is left is the stuff that everyone's already had their share of.
If that's confusing think about it like this--if the energy bill and the transportation bill were the desserts, then the budget reconciliation and tax bills are like the turkey sitting in your fridge.
Just before lawmakers headed home for the Thanksgiving dinner, the House passed their budget cutting package that included, amongst other things, sizable cuts to mandatory farm programs, cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and it fails to include authorization for drilling in the elusive Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The House version exceeds the Senate version, with total savings coming to $50 billion over a period of five years compared to the $35 billion over the same time period.
Because of the late passage and continued friction between lawmakers in the two chambers, the budget process during the next two weeks are expected to be contentious to say the least. And this includes those in agriculture.
The House and Senate packages differ slightly in the structure of the cuts. While the Senate version includes $3 billion in cuts to farm programs, the House version includes $3.7 billion. The Senate version achieves this by an across-the-board cut to all payments. The House version accounts for the cuts by withholding one percent of the direct payment that would otherwise be received by each farm for a particular commodity. But what they both have in common--thanks to an eleventh-hour commitment from House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL)--is the inclusion of a reauthorization of the controversial Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program.
And if ever there was a farm program that gives heartburn--it's MILC. So, as the House returns for a second serving next week and the Senate the following week--they'd better pack their antacids because this meal is far from over and it won't go down easy.