***Editor's Note: The following comments were received in response to the Farm Report Mailbag segment that aired November 23-24, 2013. We are posting a transcript of John's comments, followed by viewer reaction...
Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag...after all my talk about how we're mishandling the federal budget, William Stromberger from Edwall, Washington asks the key question: "You are right about cutting spending but the questions are difficult to answer. Which entitlements or projects need to be reduced or cut out completely?"
William, you nailed the problem. Lots of talking heads rant about cutting spending but never seem to specify which programs. I support cutting programs consistent with maintaining growth, and here is where I would aim the axe...
First programs to cut...farm subsidies, reduce the military to pre-Iraq size, cancel F-35 Osprey, reduce air and naval fleets, enact malpractice reform, add public option - technically not a cut but it lowers the cost of the Affordable Care Act. I would also reduce tax expenditures - breaks for special interest groups that are actually underhanded way of spending. Cap tax break for employer health insurance, cap mortgage interest deduction, treat capital gains as regular income, end estate basis step-up, end oil and gas subsidies, switch inflation measure, tie Medicare "B" premiums to cost. Most of these measures could be done gradually as the economy recovers, with a goal of minimum GDP growth of 2%. Undoubtedly, somewhere along the way I have attacked your sacred cow - which is why politicians never talk details. But if we're going to be serious about deficit reduction, somebody has to.
VIEWER REACTION #1: Let me start by explaining where I am come from. I grew up next to a family dairy farm in Minnesota. I spent several summers baling hay and milking cows. After all my education and a few other short careers, I started cattle ranching and wheat/alfalfa seed production on a spread in Montana. It was a family homestead also, long story. 14 years ago I left the ranch/farm in Montana for New Mexico, another long story, and have been doing several careers/jobs until I landed as a City Councilor in Las Cruces (I continued in the seed business a bit too). As long as I have had satellite TV, I have been watching U S Farm Report and you as I still have interest in agriculture. Call it my ‘roots’ if you like. I am writing you, now that I am in government, to tell you how much I appreciate your commentary on many things, but especially all government policy. You present such common sense, good policy. If only all could listen to you and stop the fighting in DC. ( call it racism against the President, but that is me) This weekend you hit the nail on the head, when you listed all the possible cuts in spending and asked which one is your "sacred cow". I can’t thank you enough for what you do. Gill Sorg - Las Cruces City Councillor
VIEWER REACTION #2: As always, your comments this morning are right on!! I was just sitting here thinking how badly we need common sense statesmen running our country and not career politicians. I was thinking, "Do I have to run for office now, at age 69, to straighten this country out?". Then your show came on and I heard those calls for cuts to farm subsidies right in the middle of a farm show! John, you've got the common sense, you've already got a nationwide audience, you've got to run for President - or at least Congress. Run as the Independent that you appear to be. I've tried to get involved in party politics to get them to adopt common sense platforms, but it's like whistling in the wind. Gary Vanderwerf
VIEWER REACTION #3: You are so very correct in saying don't touch my part of the federal budget. Everyone has their own sacred cow. Would it be possible every year to cut expenditures across the board by 1%, and increase tax rates across the board by 1% until we get the budget balanced? This includes all entitlements, or is this too complicated for Congress to comprehend? Enjoy your program every Sunday morning, looking forward to next Sundays Thanksgiving program. We have so much to be thankful for in this Land Of Plenty. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Make sure you have plenty of Idaho Potato's on your menu. Larry Bethke - American Falls, Idaho
VIEWER REACTION #4: Although you may be admonished by several farmers for cutting farm subsidies, if you can't cut in your own backward, how do you cut in others? It's like how do you laugh at someone else if you don't laugh at yourself first? I AGREE WITH YOU. As always I enjoy the way you challenge my thought process Fred Olberding
VIEWER REACTION #5: Run for President in 2016! Love your cuts in the budget. Keep up the great work and comments. Richard Fassino - Idaho
VIEWER REACTION #6: John, As a Democrat, I applaud and agree with your ideas for cutting federal spending and your earlier statements about the bailouts and the stimulus package of 2009. But, can you get your Republican colleagues, especially the extremists, to go along with reducing military spending, adding a public option to the ACA, treating capital gains as regular income, etc? Bob Conger, Professor Emeritus, University of Tennessee
VIEWER REACTION #7: You nailed it. Now if just the politicians would see it that way. James Hight