What's wrong with the GOP?
I agree. The farm issue is a good bellwether about whether politics trumps principle.
The Farm Bill probably provides the best example of where we've gone wrong, and what we need to do to hew back to our first principles.
During the 1990s, then-Sen. Phil Gramm accurately described U.S. farm policy as "enough to make a Russian Commissar puke." The Republicans assembled the "Freedom to Farm Act," which, starting in 1996, put U.S. farmers on a glide path toward an end to subsidies. Somewhere between the field and the silo, however, we became mired in the political mud. In 2002, we repealed the Freedom to Farm Act and in its place installed the "Farm Security Act" -- those who value the adage about trading freedom for security can pause and shudder here -- with even more lavish subsidies.
Now, with reauthorization of the Farm Bill on the horizon next year, we have to decide whether we will up the ante with Democrats in terms of red state/blue state politics in the heartland, or whether we believe our own rhetoric about free markets. This debate will have implications larger than the fiscal one. Most notably, it will determine if we are serious about the future of free trade.