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Feingold Touts Ways to Cut Wasteful Government Spending
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/09/2010

With looming budget deficits and the economy in dire straits, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold says leaders in Washington need to do more to control unnecessary spending when Congress puts together the fiscal year 2011 federal budget. The Middleton Democrat recently introduced the Control Spending Now Act, which is made up of dozens of provisions to rein in wasteful spending, as well as institutional reforms to prevent wasteful spending in the future.

Feingold is a member of the Senate Budget Committee. He says he will work to see that these specific efforts are retained or even expanded, while pushing more cuts in spending on programs that make no sense.

Some of those provisions related to rural America include:

** Eliminating the Cotton Storage Subsidy - Cotton farmers are enabled to store excess cotton at the government's expense, making cotton the only commodity that gets such a benefit unconditionally and leading some farmers to store their cotton longer than is necessary. Feingold's proposed elimination of the subsidy would save $570 million over 10 years.

** Repealing the Rail-Line Relocation Program - The rail-line relocation program is heavily earmarked and the safety functions of the program are duplicated by another federal program that can be used to improve railroad grade crossings. Feingold's proposal would eliminate the program and save an estimated $250 million over 10 years.

** Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Exporters - The Market Access Program provides assistance to market agriculture commodities to foreign consumers and has long been criticized as corporate welfare. Feingold's proposal mirrors the president's approach and would save $358 million over 10 years.

** Reducing Subsidies for Oil, Gas and Geothermal Energy Production on Public Lands - Feingold opposed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included subsidies for oil and gas companies. Feingold's proposal would ensure taxpayers are fairly compensated for the use of public resources and restore the federal government's ability to charge adequate user fees on big energy companies for the processing of oil and gas permits. The proposal would save $239 million over ten years.

** Reducing Direct Payments to Large Landowners - Direct payments are provided to landowners based on the particular crops that have been grown historically on the land they own--no matter what the price, what crop is grown, or even if the landowner is still a farmer. This proposal would reduce the maximum amount of direct payments a landowner can receive from $40,000 to $20,000 during years when the price of the crop exceeded 110 percent of the target price. Feingold says the provision would save $1.062 billion over ten years.

** Cutting Farm Subsidies for High-Income Individuals - The 2008 Farm Bill took some steps to lower the adjusted gross income eligibility cap on certain farm subsidies based on the recipients' AGI. This resulted in non-farmers losing eligibility for all farm payments at $500,000 AGI and farmers losing eligibility on direct payments at $750,000 AGI. Feingold's proposal expands the farmer limit to cover all farm subsidies and reduces the eligibility cap to $250,000 for non-farmers. It also adds a step in the eligibility where recipients would only receive 67 percent of payments in order to prevent gaming of the system. It would save $1.03 billion over 10 years.

Feingold says many of these proposals are in line with President Obama's recent budget proposal.

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