The U.S. House has passed the Cut, Cap and Balance bill mostly along party lines. The Senate is expected to begin debating the bill yet this week. And while the White House continues its meetings on the debt limit, the bipartisan Senate "Gang of Six" has offered a plan that would trim $3.7 trillion in federal spending over the next decade. This bill would include $11 billion in cuts for agriculture over the next 10 years.
The "Gang of Six" proposal does nothing to raise the national debt limit. Some say the bill has come too late. The "Gang's" members insist their goal is a long-term deficit reduction deal, not a solution to the standoff over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the plan shares many similarities with the framework the Speaker discussed with the president, but also appears to fall short in some important areas.
Then there is McConnell and Reid's Plan B which is seen as the most likely vehicle for averting a potentially catastrophic debt default. This plan would allow the debt ceiling to rise in return for nearly $1.5 trillion in spending cuts during the next decade. Plan B is also not ready for consideration.
The American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and National Association of Wheat Growers are part of the coalition urging President Obama and Congressional leaders to resolve the continuing impasse on raising the ceiling on the national debt. ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean producer from Lafayette, Ind., says such an agreement will establish budget certainty for all federal policies, including upcoming negotiations on the next Farm Bill.
Kemper emphasizes that any decision to reduce agriculture spending must allow the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to determine how the reductions are made. He says these Committees have the expertise to best evaluate specific programs and to include any changes in the 2012 Farm Bill in a manner that does not disrupt long-term commitments reflected in current farm legislation.