If you were asking yourself Just how much of a kabuki theater is what's going on in Congress right now? - well, wonder no more. From USA Today:
Top leaders on both the Senate and House Agriculture committees announced a deal on Sunday to extend the 2008 farm bill by a year, a deal that could avoid a surge in market prices for milk and other commodities.
The measure, which still has to be approved by votes in both chambers of Congress, would give lawmakers another year to iron out a deal. The 2008 farm bill expired on Sept. 30, but a failure to have a law in place would have its biggest impact on the agricultural sector next year beginning with milk.
We were looking at the possibility of milk prices suddenly doubling on Tuesday - more accurately, we were looking at the possibility of the government suddenly insisting that milk producers double their prices. Short version? There's a law older than a plurality of the people reading this that dictates that milk be sold at a minimum price. Alas, the law did not - sing along with me, folks - take into account changes in technology and industry, so the calculations for a fair minimum price are now profoundly out of whack. And, of course, nobody's ever updated the calculations permanently and properly, because... nobody ever fixes anything permanently and properly in Dizzy City. There's always a really good reason why they didn't, too; which I suppose is a comfort, assuming that you have a broad-minded definition of the term 'comfort.'
So, what this means is... well, it means that we have another example of Why Permanent Subsidies That Are Never Reviewed And Lack A Sunset Clause Are BAD, but what it also means is that Congress suddenly had to face the specter of having to explain to their constituents why everybody's milk prices just skyrocketed. And since this is one situation where the strategy of 'blaming the other guys' probably wouldn't work... well, they took valuable time out from the looming, impossible-t0-resolve fiscal cliff to kick the milk can down the road for another year.
...How nice of them. Yeah, you should be broad-minded when defining 'nice,' too.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: If only Senate Democrats were as terrified of the populace's reaction to our utter lack of a budget.