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Friday, July 8, 2005
Bush and food subsidies
By Bryan S. @ 8:36 pm

Dean Esmay links to an article that quotes President Bush as committing to end U.S. farm subsidies if the EU does so as well:

President George W. Bush said the United States will end subsidies to its farmers if Europe does the same, an offer the European Commission said it hoped would lead to a breakthrough at world trade talks later this year.

Asked in an interview broadcast on Monday if the United States would abolish farm subsidies if Europe did, Bush responded: “Absolutely, and I think we have an obligation to work together to do that”.

“Let’s join hands as wealthy industrialised nations and say to the world, we are going to get rid of all our agricultural subsidies together,” Bush told ITV1 television ahead of a summit of the Group of Eight rich nations in Scotland on Wednesday.

“The position of the U.S. government is, we are willing to do so … with our fine friends in the European Union,” he said.

I’m actually at a loss for words about what to call this particular maneuver. What does one call it when someone makes a commitment to do something knowing full well that he will never have to do it because the condition upon which it is predicated will never come to pass.

To wit: George Bush will never have to end U.S. farm subsidies because the French will never end farm subsidies. And Bush - as a second-term president managing several controversial topics at once: social security, the war, supreme court nominations - is not going to turn all those congresscritters to the free market.

Sorry to burst Dean’s bubble, but, to borrow a cliche: It ain’t happening.

Filed under: Other Blogs, Global Politics | |Send TrackBack


  1. Oh, you’re probably right that it’s not going to happen, but it’s nevertheless a significant step: the issue has been openly acknowledged by the leaders of the G8 countries now and at least one has openly said it should be done.

    Politically I still don’t think it’s achievable in the US even if the Europeans were to be willing (which they wouldn’t be). The farm states just wouldn’t put up with it, and any such effort would be instantly torpedoed in the Senate-by filibuster at least, and it might not even need a filibuster to be defeated.

    Yet the more the issue is raised, the more achievable it becomes over time, especially if more and more people in the West can be made aware of the fact that most agriculture is now large corporate farms and not the romantic little family farms.

    Comment by Dean Esmay — Friday, July 8, 2005 @ 8:45 pm

  2. Bryan: You’re right that it’s a fairly cost-free manouver on Bush’s part, and he probably won’t have to deliver… but, the US and EU are already committed to cutting ag subsidies as part of the WTO’s Doha Round, and even a nudge in that direction would be worthwhile.

    Comment by Chris Lawrence — Friday, July 8, 2005 @ 11:37 pm

  3. Arguably there is more of a push to phase out subsidies in the EU (while recognizing resistance) than in the US. This situation is more than ironic, with Bush having proclaimed his endless service to the free market economy.

    You’re at a loss for words for what to call it? Easy: Political posturing. Grandstanding. Cheap oratory.

    If Bush is serious about ending subsidies, he can spend time on the road explaining that, rather than on his Social Security “plan.” How much has he pushed the REPUBLICAN congress in this direction??? Can’t blame the Democrats on this one. Subsidies are a bipartisan affair.

    Comment by tubino — Saturday, July 9, 2005 @ 9:40 am

  4. You call it bad faith, which the Bush administration is quite good at dealing in.

    Comment by zen_less — Saturday, July 9, 2005 @ 1:23 pm

  5. “Asked in an interview broadcast on Monday if the United States would abolish farm subsidies if Europe did, Bush responded:” ‘No way!’

    Geez, guys and gals, what answer would have met with your approval?

    Comment by alene — Saturday, July 9, 2005 @ 5:18 pm

  6. “What does one call it when someone makes a commitment to do something knowing full well that he will never have to do it because the condition upon which it is predicated will never come to pass.”

    A prick?

    Comment by Sirkowski — Sunday, July 10, 2005 @ 10:24 pm

  7. Being at a loss for words and what to call it…uhm…sounds like Democrats in Congress! Adding to something that won’t happen: Why don’t we ask France to pay us back for all the goodies it’s gotten from us sicne WWI? Like you said. It ain’t happening! Love the site!

    Comment by CR Mountjoy — Saturday, July 23, 2005 @ 11:24 am

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