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Your Yonder editors have been out of pocket for the past week. The days seemed long. We knew when we returned we’d find a world changed to something we could barely recognize.
Then we looked and we wondered why we didn’t stay away longer:
— Special interests are still winning.
The Senate spent the week weeding through special interest tax breaks. Senators had a list of 75 tax breaks written into the federal code — stuff like an economic development credit for a StarKist tuna cannery in American Samoa and a special tax credit for electric motorcycles.
The Senate Finance Committee went after these unique bits of tax law with something less than a vengeance. They got rid of 20 out of the 75 — and then congratulated themselves on a job thoroughly done, according to the Washington Post.
“Rather than criticize themselves for not hacking through the layers of loopholes and tax favors, committee leaders noted that they had, for the first time in memory, refused to automatically renew them all,” the paper reported.
— There is still no Farm Bill, even as the drought worsens.
The House still hasn’t taken up the Farm Bill, but it did cough up a small drought disaster relief bill aimed at livestock producers. They passed the relief bill and then headed out of town on a five-week recess.
The Senate has already passed a Farm Bill that contains relief for those livestock producers suffering from drought but Senators are reluctant to take up a bill that is something less than the complete package. The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, said that the disaster relief legislation was a “sad substitute for what is really needed, a long-term farm policy.”
Peterson noted that the bill left out dairy, pork, poultry and specialty crop producers.
— The can is still being kicked down the road.
Chris Clayton writes about what’s happened in Congress with farm legislation:
To summarize, the House effectively refused this summer to pass a farm bill because its leaders flat-out declined to back their chairman and the bipartisan legislation he guided through the normal committee process of hearings and a markup. The Senate, in turn, determined that two birds in the bush is better than one in the hand, especially when you have time to take a long vacation and go bird-watching.
So when you go to your town-hall meeting or campaign rally this month and your congressman or senator reminds you that we’re all in this together, by all means offer to help each and every one of them kick their own can down the road.
— Postal Service reform is still stalled.
The Congress has not yet passed a Postal Service reform bill, even as the U.S. Postal Service defaulted on $5.5 billion in scheduled payments for future retiree benefits that were due Wednesday at midnight.
The headline in the National Journal tells all: “Postal Service Defaults, Congress Does Nothing.”
— Monsanto is still winning.
A federal jury in St. Louis ruled this week that DuPont and its Pioneer subsidiary had infringed on a Monsanto seed patent. The jury awarded Monsanto $1 billion in damages.
The jury took less than an hour to reach a decision after a four week trial. Monsanto said Pioneer of improperly combining the firm’s Roundup Ready gene in a Pioneer soybean variety.
— It still hasn’t rained.
Nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are in drought. The worst drought in 56 years worsened in the last week.