It is always risky to simplify the policy environment in any country let alone a county as large and diverse as the U.S., but I suggest that many issues confronting the U.S.at present can be viewed as a debate over the components, administration, and funding of a U.S. safety net modernized for the 21st Century. However, this desire is occurring at the same time that the U.S. is confronting a painful economic constraint resulting from economic growth that is slower than historically expected. Until the U.S. figures out a new engine to raise its growth rate, it is likely that growth will remain muted, which in turns means that attempts to expand the safety net will require hard budget and tax revenue choices.
Interestingly, the debate over the 2012 Farm Bill involves many aspects of this broader policy discussion: debate is occurring over both the form and cost of the farm safety net, as well as whether the safety net should be delivered through private agents, i.e., crop insurance, or via government agencies, i.e., the Farm Service Agency. While entirely speculative, it is possible that history may reveal that the 2012 farm bill ultimately served to guide the resolution of the policy issues surrounding the broader U.S. safety net for the 21st Century. In short, it may be fortuitous that during the forthcoming lame duck session of Congress the debate over the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic budget cuts and tax increases coincides with the debate over the farm bill.
Issued by Carl Zulauf Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics The Ohio State University"
When you read the entire article, he points out that we may not be able to see the full affect of the costs of some of the safety nets until time for the 2014 and even 2016 elections. It seems to me he is saying that even if we come up with an acceptable short term compromise, it may be challenged as the bills come home to be paid in a couple of years.