After Lucas’ five-year bill failed in September, a three-month measure was shot down by Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who demanded a five-year bill. A stopgap measure extending MILC may have been the right thing to do for farmers, but locking in five years of pork was priority No. 1 for Peterson, who receives more campaign donations from the agriculture lobby than any other House member. A three-month measure also wouldn’t have allowed Peterson to exploit an internal Republican rift between fiscal hawks such as Cantor and Boehner and heartlanders such as Tea Party freshman Kristi Noem, who was one of a handful of Republicans to join dozens of Democrats in signing a House discharge petition to force a vote on the five-year bill.
Let Congress’ failure on the farm bill be a warning for voters headed to the polls next month. Regardless of party affiliation, the ability to compromise and cooperate should trump the values of spite and brinkmanship.