Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PunditFact: Donna Brazile says the farm bill would reduce the deficit

The statement

"(The farm bill) has a provision that would in many ways reduce the deficit."

Donna Brazile, Dec. 29, on CNN's State of the Union

The ruling

Don't let the name of the bill fool you: The farm bill, which must be renewed every five years, touches many corners of American agricultural policy. It provides billions of dollars to some farmers in crop subsidies and also funds the country's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps.

The package proposed in 2013 comes with a big price tag. The Senate passed a version in June that would spend $955 billion from 2014 to 2023. The House passed its farm bill in two different pieces of legislation totaling $921 billion over a decade.

There are vast differences between the bills, particularly with SNAP policy, but they do have one thing in common: Each would reduce the deficit, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It's the job of the CBO to estimate the cost of legislation so policymakers know the implications of their votes. For bills like the farm bill, CBO analysts use accepted economic forecasting methods to essentially make their best guess about how programs will affect the budget under existing law.

The office projected the costs of each chamber's farm bills since spring 2013, with new estimates coming later to account for amendments and other money-related changes tacked on during the lawmaking process. To give a big picture, the analysts make some assumptions about future policy. Their estimates for the farm bills, for example, assume that programs set to expire would be reauthorized without major changes in 2018 through 2023.

Let's start with CBO's "baseline." The office assumed that if the programs in the farm bill continued in their current form over the next decade, it would cost $973 billion.

In its May analysis, the CBO found the Senate bill would reduce that total by $17.9 billion through 2023. In other words, it would have net-deficit reduction of almost $18 billion. The pair of House bills would go further, the CBO found, reducing the deficit by a total of $51.9 billion. The House would cut about 10 times more in the food stamps program than the Senate.

Both bills rack up savings by cutting back on crop subsidy and conservation programs, including eliminating direct payments to farmers regardless of whether they are currently farming their land. That program costs about $5 billion a year and was conceived in 1996 as a temporary solution.

Our ruling

Brazile said the farm bill "has a provision that would in many ways reduce the deficit." Her comment is based on estimates of the House and Senate bills by the Congressional Budget Office, which found both bills to be deficit reducers in the long term.

Over 10 years, the proposal would shrink the deficit by $20 billion or so — a paltry sum in the universe of federal spending. But, yes, technically a deficit reducer.

Brazile is right, but her comments might lead someone to more sweeping conclusions. As such, we rate this claim Mostly True.

KATIE SANDERS, Times staff writer

Edited for print. Read the full version at

PunditFact: Donna Brazile says the farm bill would reduce the deficit 01/03/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 3, 2014 4:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that "both sides” bear blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.