January 21, 2020

Budget and Farm Bill; Regulations; Ag Committee Oversight; and Government Reports

Categories: Audio /Budget /Farm Bill

Budget and Farm Bill Issues

Pete Kasperowicz reported on Friday at The Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “Next week starts a hectic two-week period in which Republicans and Democrats hope to reach several agreements on issues like 2012 spending, a payroll tax cut extension, and some form of unemployment benefit extension.”

The Hill update explained that, “The 2 percent payroll tax cut that expires this year will also be front and center. Senate Democrats this week tried to push through an extension of that cut that also expanded it to a 3.1 percent cut, and spent the week daring Republicans to oppose it.

“But Republicans said that while they want the cut, they don’t want the Democrats’ pay for, which was a tax on income above $1 million. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has hinted that he might revisit the payroll bill, and Republicans on Friday presented several ideas for paying for the extension, like a freeze in federal pay and workforce reductions.”

Nancy Cortes of CBS News provided a quick recap of the payroll tax issue on Friday’s OnPoint Radio program (WBUR)- audio here (MP3- 1:08).

Beyond the payroll tax extension, the AP reported on Saturday that, “[Lawmakers are] ready to commit up to $50 billion more to continue unemployment benefits to people out of work for more than half a year…And doctors have no reason to doubt they won’t be rescued, again, from steep cuts in their Medicare payments. Combine that with the tax cuts and jobless benefits, and Congress could add almost $200 billion to the federal ledger this month.”

Janet Hook and Naftali Bendavid reported in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal that, “On the tax question, both [House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)] and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) have said the break should be extended, but that its cost should be offset with spending cuts…To reinforce his party’s commitment to reducing the deficit, Mr. Boehner proposed offsetting the roughly $200 billion cost of the bill with a menu of spending cuts, including a hiring freeze on federal workers.”

As the budget debate on payroll taxes, unemployment benefits, the Medicare “doc fix” and other issues proceed to resolution, some observers have warned that federal farm programs could be a potential source for offsetting the costs of some of these measures.