Congress recently refused to cut off taxpayer support of tobacco farmers' crop insurance.
By a vote of 209 for and 216 against, the United States House of Representatives rejected an amendment to remove about $34 million for the subsidy from the fiscal 1998 agricultural appropriations bill (HR 2160). A yes vote was to end the taxpayer subsidy of tobacco crop insurance.
By a vote of 53-47, the U.S. Senate tabled ~illed) an amendment to remove about $34 million from the Senate version (S. 1033) of the agricutural appropriations bill. In the Senate, a yes vote was to continue subsidized crop insurance for tobacco growers.
The ways of Washington never cease to amaze us. The Surgeon General's warning is on the cigarette pack. The "feds" expect state agencies to crack down on any local merchant who sells cigarettes to a minor, even if said customer doesn't look like a minor. But, Congress still encourages tobacco farmers to conduct business as usual by continuing the subsidy.
Vermont, by the way, is certainly a place where we hear about the dangers of tobacco. State law makes smoking in most restaurants impossible. Divesting of tobacco stocks in state pension funds is now politically correct policy. Vermont's Republican State Treasurer James Douglas apparently believes pension funds can be used to promote social policy. But, despite all the complaints voiced about cigarettes in the Green Mountain State, Vermont's Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and so-called Republican Senator James Jeffords voted to continue the tobacco crop insurance subsidy.
Given the size of Uncle Sam's budget deficit, the same federal government that tells us about the dangers of smoking, shouldn't support corporate welfare for tobacco farmers. We therefore applaud Vermont's Independent Congresssman Bernard Sanders, New Hampshire GOP Representative Charles Bass of the North Country's Second Congressional District, and the Granite State's Republican Senators Judd Gregg and Robert Smith for voting to end taxpayer support of tobacco crop insurance.