When the bloated farm bill came up for a final vote in Congress last week, few members had the nerve to stand up against the public giveways to wealthy farmers, the sugar industry, horse breeders and other special interests. Florida Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson voted for it. So did every Tampa Bay area House member — except one.
Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, voted against this welfare for big agribusiness. He opposed allowing subsidies to be collected by married farmers with net incomes of up to $1.5-million and said the net income limit should have been set at less than $200,000. He also renewed his objections to increasing price supports for the sugar industry. Young has long opposed those price supports as a tax on consumers.
While Young knows his way around earmarks, he plays by the rules of the game and objected to three that were not in either the House or Senate bill but mysteriously wound up in the conference report: a buyout for salmon fisheries in California, a timber company land deal in Montana and the sale of part of a national forest in Vermont to a ski resort.
Other Tampa Bay members of Congress, including Democrat Kathy Castor of Tampa and Republicans Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville, Vern Buchanan of Sarasota and Adam Putnam of Bartow, owe their constituents an explanation of how they could support such waste. But those House members and Florida's senators also likely will have a chance to redeem themselves. President Bush has promised to veto the bill, and they should come to their senses and join Young in voting to sustain the veto.