North Dakotans are proud of our self-reliance and independent way of life. The sweeping tax bill that was just rushed through Congress, without a single hearing, has placed that way of life at risk.
The personal finance website WalletHub released a study comparing the 50 states on how dependent they are on federal support in 2017. North Dakota can cheer that its state government is the least dependent on federal funds for its annual revenue. However, the study found that North Dakota residents themselves were more dependent on federal funds than in any other state. Why the drastic difference?
The answer is simple. Farm bill program payments to North Dakota agricultural producers, landowners and residents. The tax bill directly threatens farm bill program funding by adding $500 billion to $1.5 trillion to the U.S. deficit. Yes, U.S. debt increased by that much every year since the 2008 financial crisis due to bank bailouts, tax cuts and stimulus programs. However, should the people that crashed the world economy ten years ago receive the largest benefits of the current tax bill? This tax bill steals from Peter's crop insurance to help pay for Paul's private jet and to grow his stock portfolio.
Even the most bullish economists question the ability of the economy to replace that loss through increased growth. The result will be massive cuts to U.S. discretionary spending, which is used to fund farm bill programs, and budget reductions to the agencies who manage those funds, such as the USDA and FSA.
The chickenfeed tax cuts that benefit the majority of North Dakota farmers and families will expire by 2025, but the benefits for the wealthiest 1 percent never do. In fact, taxes will gradually increase for the working-class people who shop at the local hardware store, grocery store and diner.
The tax bill is a partisan dine-and-dash that is not good for the North Dakotan farmers who put the food on the table, or the rural communities they support.
Lowstuter lives in Menoken, N.D.