Politico's Sherman Slams House GOP As 'Dysfunctional' After Conservatives Scuttle Tax and Pork-laden 'Farm Bill'

June 21st, 2013 12:15 PM

On their website, Politico insists that it exists "to prove there's a robust and profitable future for tough, fair and fun coverage of politics and government." While promising to remain objective, the goal is really to provide "a distinctive brand of journalism that drives the conversation." Of course, the paper repeatedly fails to be fair and balanced and repeatedly succeeds in steering liberal media conversation, and always with a meme that accords to the liberal media's desire to bash conservatives and boost liberal Democrats.

Take today's Jake Sherman piece, "The dysfunctional House," which lambastes House Republican leadership for being bested by a conservative faction of 62 Republicans who helped to doom the "farm bill" in a floor vote yesterday. But Sherman's goal wasn't so much to defend a bill that is 80 percent pork but to set a narrative that paints the House GOP as obstructionist and uninterested in governing, thanks to a minority of renegade conservatives. That of course will feed into a larger narrative the media hope to drive prior to the 2014 midterms:

Someone in House leadership screwed up again.

The defeat of the farm bill — after both parties were privately bullish it would pass with large margins — shows, once again, how massively dysfunctional the House and its leadership has become. And it plainly reveals that a bipartisan rewrite of the nation’s complex and politically charged immigration laws are a pipe dream in the House, at least for now. Preventing a government shutdown and debt limit fight are not far behind.

For decades, the farm bill has been a beacon of bipartisanship in an increasingly rough-and-tumble chamber. The defeat of Thursday’s version was propelled by the adoption of Florida GOP Rep. Steve Southerland’s amendment to institute work requirements for recipients of food stamps. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) spoke on behalf of the amendment, indicating his support.

But passage of that amendment doomed the broader bill...


People involved in the farm debate, irate at the sudden defeat, say the House is plainly not working. Someone’s vote count was off. Someone’s political antennae were frayed. Someone miscalculated the stiff resistance from the rank and file.

Republicans are sniping that Democrats promised 40 votes — but, given the final vote count, even that wouldn’t have put the bill over the edge.

Sherman made sure to get the perspective of unnamed Republican sources who clearly wanted the farm bill to pass, but he failed to quote any sources from the offices of Republicans who voted against the bill. For example, the "beacon of bipartisanship" in approving previous pork-laden farm bills is precisely the problem with Washington, Tea Party conservatives would argue. Additionally, conservatives would say, it is not illegitimate to expect that food stamp recipients are not mooching off the government but are actually working. But in Sherman's mind, it is conservative amendments like that which "propelled" the demise of the farm bill, driving Democrats, ostensibly, away from backing it.

In other words, true "bipartisanship" looks like shoveling money towards a problem without any structural reform to address abuses or wasteful spending.

What's more, Sherman quoted heavily from Democrats and left the impression that Republican amendments on the farm bill had made it unpalatable to Democrats and that to redeem themselves from "dysfunction," the House needs to simply rubber-stamp what the Democratic-controlled Senate has passed:

Republicans blamed Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the 22-year veteran of Congress who serves as his party’s top lawmaker on the Agriculture Committee, who saw Democrats dash from supporting his bill. Lucas has egg on his face because he spent months crafting a bill that went down in flames in a very public way.

“They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” an irate Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told POLITICO. “They had a bipartisan agreement, Peterson was on board. I think they would gotten a very substantial number of Democratic votes. They had a substantial number of amendments that turned it into a partisan bill.”


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reacted this way: “It’s time for Speaker Boehner to take the same approach that has proven successful in the past, and allow the House to pass the bipartisan work of the Senate.”

As my former colleague Amy Payne, now with the Heritage Foundation, noted last week, the so-called farm bill would cost taxpayers a whopping 56 percent more than the last one back in 2008, laden with pork projects like "the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, which helps with the marketing of sheep and goats" as well as "$1 million per year for weather radios." And no bill favored by tax-and-spend liberals is complete without some type of new tax, like the farm bill's tax on, I kid you not, Christmas trees.

"[C]omplacency in the modern media is a deadly cancer," the Politico's "about us" section self-righteously huffs. But it's abundantly clear that it's Politico that is terminally ill, corrupted by a desire to drive the "conversation" towards the end of bigger, costlier government.