Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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New Speaker Johnson—We Have to Rein in Spending

The new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson stressed in his acceptance speech the GOP’s longstanding push to rein in spending, a goal that has direct implications for ag spending. Johnson hails from the GOP’s hardline conservatives—some of whom torpedoed the FY 2024 USDA/FDA spending bill last month.

Johnson voted for the bill that would have cut $8 billion by reprogramming unspent COVID funds—not enough for many hardliners. But the new Speaker had this after taking the gavel. He said, “The skyrocketing cost of living is unsustainable, and Americans should not have to worry about how they’re going to feed their family every week because they can’t afford their groceries anymore. We have to bring relief to the American people by reining in federal spending and bringing down inflation.”

Johnson argued the greatest threat to national security is the debt, forcing up borrowing costs for farmers, homeowners, and others. He said, “The debt has crossed almost 33.6 trillion dollars. In the time that it’s going to take me to deliver this speech, it will go up another 20 million in debt—it’s unsustainable.”

The new Speaker said fixing it won’t be easy; “Tough decisions will have to be made. But the consequences, if we don’t act now, are unbearable. We have a duty to the American people to explain it to them, so they understand it well, and we are going to establish a bipartisan debt commission to begin working on this crisis immediately.”

Treasury says interest payments on the national debt doubled in one year to $659 billion, just behind defense spending and on target to consume almost 30 percent of federal revenue by 2030. Commodity group leaders complained about the cost of borrowing at an Ag hearing in May, including one who said his loan costs had tripled in just a few years.

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