Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spinning Crop Insurance

I've probably written this before, but crop insurance advocates spin their story just as well as any politician.  Take this statement included in the press release noting crop insurance indemnities crossed the $10 billion mark and touting the fact that Congress didn't have to pass an ad hoc disaster program this year:
"Since 2008, a total of more than $28 billion has been sent to farmers for policies they
purchased. Federal investment in crop insurance, during that same period, was reduced
by more than $12 billion."
The same tactic is used by all supporters of federal expenditures on a totally nonpartisan basis.  Conservatives who support a "strong defense" do it, liberals who support food stamps do it, President Obama does it, President Bush did it, Rep. Ryan does it, even fiscal hawks do it when it comes to their pet program, they all "do it", but Billie Holliday isn't singing about it.

What's "it"?  Extrapolate from the past policy to establish the baseline for determining what the "cut" or "reduction" is, and fail to acknowledge automatic sources of growth.  In other words, the second sentence in the quote should, if the author was intellectually honest, read something like this:

"Although changes in policy have reduced Federal investment in crop insurance, during that same period, by x billion dollars, because of increased crop prices and acreages the total Federal investment has grown by y billion dollars." 

See this link for another example of spinning.

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