My postings to this blog have been few and far between lately and I’d be surprised if anyone is still checking. I hope to do better going forward.
Last November, I was appointed to an American Farm Bureau Task Force charged with studying the long-term federal deficits. The Task Force absorbed most of my free time between December and July. It was made up of nine farmers from around the U.S. (Iowa, Connecticut, Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, California, and Oregon) and was set up by the AFBF Board of Directors after they heard a presentation from the “Fiscal Wake-up Tour” about the dangers posed by the large projected federal deficits over the next forty years. The “Fiscal Wake-up Tour” is sponsored by the Concord Coalition and includes both a conservative economist from the Heritage Foundation and a liberal economist from the Brookings Institution — to show that reducing the deficits isn’t a partisan issue. The Task Force had monthly meetings through the spring, mostly in Washington, D.C. We heard interesting presentations from experts on many topics related to the deficits.
The charge for our Task Force was to develop background materials to help Farm Bureau members develop resolutions at their county and state meetings this fall. You can read this background material and view a video featuring the members of the Task Force at
The video is about 15 minutes long. The AFBF staff did a great job in putting it together and it is worth watching.
I’ve learned a lot over the last six months. Before I joined the Task Force, I thought the major obstacles to balancing the federal budget in future years would come from the looming retirement of the baby-boomers and the resulting insolvency of Social Security. I was mostly wrong. Making the Social Security system solvent is politically difficult, but can be accomplished with some relatively simple changes. The real elephants in the room are exploding medical costs that affect the Medicare and Medicaid programs and a structural imbalance that has developed over the last thirty years between federal revenue and expenditures. I will discuss what I’ve learned about each of these topics in future blog entries.