Farm subsidies don't lack for critics. Free-market conservatives and welfare state-defending liberals alike have called for deep cuts in these payments to farmers. After all, farmers, as a group, are wealthier than the average American. Why should they get tens of billions of dollars each year in federal aid?
Two years ago, when the most recent Farm Bill emerged from Congress, the measure's authors proudly announced what sounded like bold cuts in these controversial programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee noted in a press release that the new law would eliminate one big subsidy altogether and save taxpayers a total of $23.3 billion over the following 10 years.
Those projected savings, it turns out, were a mirage. According new estimates for Farm Bill spending over the next few years released by the Congressional Budget Office, total government aid to farmers will swell to $23.9 billion in 2017.