So the so-called "fiscal cliff" deal postponed the discussion of spending cuts for the Federal government for two months. In the next negotiation, will there be any real spending cuts?
I'm certainly not counting on it. Check out the article by Robert Samuelson in today's Washington Post: If We Can't Kill Farm Subsidies, What Can We Kill? Excellent question. According to Samuelson's data, the current level of Federal farm subsidies is running around $10 billion to $15 billion per year -- less than half a percent of Federal expenditures. Farm income hit records in 2011 and 2012. The theoretical justifications for the farm subsidies (e.g., save the family farm, protect small businesses against volatility higher than that of other businesses) are thoroughly obsolete.
Of course, what farm subsidies are is a great source of graft -- work for lobbyists and resulting campaign contributions. Check out the "Agriculture" section of Senator Chuck "Worst Senator Ever" Schumer's web site: item after item of the giveaways Chuck has been able to get for the few thousand remaining New York farmers. How does he even get away with this representing one of the most heavily urbanized of states? The answer is that not a single one of his urban constituents has ever even read this part of his web site.
My bet is that the Republicans won't even make a play to deal with the farm subsidies. And if they won't deal with that, what will they deal with? At this point all we can do is hope for a financial crisis to extricate us from this folly.