Cuts to farm subsidies will not open up global markets

Former member of Congress James Bacchus (D-Fla.), argued on The Hill’s Congress Blog (“Time to cut farm subsidies now,” July 6) that the United States should offer to make further cuts in its domestic farm support programs in the World Trade Organization trade negotiations because doing so would remove “the biggest obstacle to a global trade breakthrough.” I believe Mr. Bacchus has missed the mark on several key issues in the agricultural talks.

First, the U.S. has made a genuine offer to reduce its WTO limit on domestic supports and has indicated a willingness to consider additional commitments. But U.S. negotiators in both the Obama and Bush administrations have insisted that key developing countries provide some clarity about their intentions with respect to market access undertakings. This has not happened, and U.S. negotiators have seen no evidence this would change with an “improved” U.S. offer on domestic supports.  

Second, China, Brazil and India, the most vocal countries demanding further U.S. farm support cuts, have dramatically increased their own supports in agriculture over the past six or seven years, to levels significantly higher than those provided to U.S. farmers. In fact, there is growing evidence that in each of these countries, and in several others, these supports exceed their current WTO limits.

The intense focus by these countries on U.S. supports has served to deflect attention from their own subsidy programs and allowed them to self-righteously reject calls for greater undertakings in all areas of the negotiations: agriculture, manufacturing and services. Rather than the U.S. making a new offer on domestic supports now and essentially negotiating with itself, our focus should be on the agricultural subsidy practices of these large emerging markets and on ways to bring them into the negotiating process so that meaningful market access deals can be achieved in all sectors.

In short, it is incorrect to say that what key developing countries “want most” are cuts in U.S. farm supports. What they want most is access for their exports without having to provide any themselves. 

Washington, D.C. 

Limit government, not taxpayers’ paychecks

From Byron Kern

Those who support the “Sense of the Senate” tax bill are in plenty of company.

In his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx listed 10 measures a nation should adopt in order to make “despotic inroads on the rights of property”... i.e., destroy a free market system and establish socialism. No. 2 is “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.”

Most people understand that even if all the assets of the rich were taken from them and redistributed to the poor, the assets of the poor would not change by more than 1 cent, if that much. But fewer jobs would be created because money would be lacking to begin or expand businesses, so that everyone would be poorer and stay that way.

The solution is for the central government to abide by our Constitution, which contains the principles of limited government that made this nation the economic marvel of the world, because they gave the incentive of the people to produce and work. If our Constitution were followed, federal expenditures would be reduced by at least 62 percent. This would solve our serious debt situation.

Richardson, Texas

Take back tax breaks from ‘job creators’

From Joanne Hafter

Since the first term of GW Bush, generous tax breaks have been in effect for the “upper 2 percent” and corporations, otherwise known as “the JOB creators.” Along with those tax breaks, tax loopholes have been expanded. For those who counter with “the Democrats had a majority,” I answer with: The Republicans had a large enough minority to stifle almost all efforts to change the tax situation, promote bills that create an environment for job creation including those that would fix, re-build and improve our country’s infrastructure.

Since these “job creators” have had the massive tax breaks for more than 10 years (making me pay more taxes than Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil) that are supposed to promote job creation, I must ask: WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

If these “job creators” refuse to re-invest the money that these tax breaks allow them to keep, I must insist they pay their fair share (or more, in penalty) in taxes so the government can create those jobs.

Columbia, S.C.

Social Security changing the game in debt talks

From Denny Freidenrich

Re: “Obama warns Social Security checks might not be sent Aug. 3” (July 12): 

Until today, much of the debate about the debt ceiling has been difficult to understand and, quite frankly, a bit tedious to follow. Now that President Obama has openly suggested that 70 million Social Security and other government checks might not go out on Aug. 3, my guess is what some on Capitol Hill have been calling a game of political chicken will end quickly. No politician, from local dog catcher to presidential candidate, can afford to be on the wrong side of this proverbial mail box. From now until Aug. 2, it’s “game on” for the White House and Congress. 

Laguna Beach, Calif.