As I opted today to grudgingly weigh in on the latest proposals to cut crop insurance, I consulted sources such as Psychology Today.
I thought about how to conduct a counseling session because there is apparently some residual trauma out there in farm country left over from the federal budget deal last week.
Close your eyes, breathe deep, exhale and understand that the crop-insurance industry is going to be OK. Yes, the budget deal has language in there about $3 billion in cuts to crop insurance --- hum and meditate --- that apparently won't really occur. Offsets have been promised to come elsewhere.
If your concerns can't be abated just by meditation, I would suggest brewing some Kava tea or Valerian root tea that have calming, anti-anxiety traits.
And as a someone with deep concerns about crop insurance, you should be proud of the way House and Senate aggies responded to the apparent threat.
In the House, the Ag Committee members last week came charging out of their offices and hearing room as if they were rescuing drowning puppies in their collective efforts to stave off that $3 billion insurance cut.
In the Senate, Sens. Pat Roberts, John Thune and John Cornyn held one of those Senate floor talking sessions -- a colloquy -- just to express how important it is to protect crop insurance in the upcoming spending bill. You can watch a video of it if you wish. http://dld.bz/…
If the tea doesn’t work for you, find a sofa and lay down for a few.
Now we get to the heart of this counseling session. I could sense the angst coming through the email today because Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is introducing legislation in the Senate that is coupled with legislation introduced in the House by Wisconsin Reps. Ron Kind, a Democrat, and Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican.
OK, before we go any further, if you are still stressed out, you may have to move to Colorado or Washington State. Meditation, tea and sofas are about the limits of my relaxation options for you.
So, Kind, Sensenbrenner and Flake proposed the "Assisting Family Farmers through Insurance Reform Act (AFFIRM Act.) Well, first of all, you have to give them props for the acronym. But the plan these guys proposed is a $24.4 billion cut in crop insurance over 10 years. Caps on premiums, means testing, elimination of the Harvest Price Option, and sticking with the lower 8.9% rate of return in the budget deal.
Whew, I mean, these guys are bringing it.
Put down the bottle! We're not done yet.
Here's a little secret to dial back the anxiety. These proposals, while fearsome in numbers, don't even merit comparisons to a football Hail Mary play. They are akin to the guy at the YMCA rock wall telling you he's now ready to tackle Everest.
In other words, you should take this proposal with a grain of salt.
Flake is one senator. Uno, as in singular. I just told you a little earlier about the Senate Ag chairman on the floor talking to the Senate leader and a couple of other key guys about protecting crop insurance from a far smaller threat. Now, if Flake has 20 co-sponsors, it might be worth perking up the eyes. If Flake were able to get a floor vote on his proposal, well it might be interesting to see where the numbers fall. You might even want to break out some Tums. But at the moment, he's performing a one-man play.
OK, on this point, I have to stand corrected. It turns out that Sen. Flake isn't flying solo in the Senate. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., co-signed with him on the bill. However, the numbers still look pretty favorbably this bill isn't going anywhere soon. Now, if the bill starts gaining co-sponsors, we'll let you know when to start having an anxiety attack.
In the House, there are two sponsors. Sadly for Kind and Sensenbrenner, they are just 216 votes short of their bill being a serious idea. At this point, they don't constitute 1% of the House. It takes at least four congressmen to do that.
I know. They are picking on crop insurance. Why do they want to do that? But just because fewer than a handful of lawmakers throw out a plan to build a space station on the moon, that doesn't make it a credible proposal. Just because a couple of lawmakers well known for their decade-plus battles over farm programs put out a plan to cut crop insurance, that doesn't mean it should be taken seriously.
But if you go around out in the country getting bent out of shape because of this stuff, all it will lead to is high blood pressure. You don't need that kind of stress when you are banking all that corn in the bin right now.
So go outside, take a relaxing walk and admire what's left of the fall foliage. And forget about this crazy talk about massive cuts to crop insurance.
You'll feel better.
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