PoliGraph: Peterson overreaches in budget claim

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U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson says the House Agriculture Committee is taking a disproportionate hit under GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan.

Overall, we’re talking about a 25 percent cut for [the Agriculture Committee], and we’re not seeing 25 percent cuts to other parts of the budget bill,” the 7th District Democrat told the Fergus Falls Daily Journal on April 12, 2011.

The Agriculture Committee, which Peterson serves on, could see big budget cuts, but it isn’t the only one.

The Evidence

The Ryan proposal outlines future spending for 16 House committees. Six of them, including Armed Services, which is slated to get $1.7 trillion over 10 years and Foreign Affairs, which is expected to get $242 billion over 10 years, would see no budget cuts.

The remaining 10 committees would see billions slashed from their allowances, including the Agriculture Committee. Under current law, Peterson’s panel is expected to get about $760 billion over the next 10 years. If Ryan’s budget is adopted, that figure would be reduced to about $585 billion – about a 25 percent reduction in the panel’s budget authority.

Those cuts include a $30 billion reduction in farm subsidies and a $127 billion reduction in spending on food stamps.

But Peterson is incorrect when he implies that other committees aren’t seeing 25 percent cuts. For instance, the Education and Workforce Committee will see a more than 250 percent cut in its budget authority. The Homeland Security Committee will see an 88 percent cut in its budget authority. And the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health programs including Medicare, would see a 30 percent reduction in its pool of cash.

It’s worth noting that the committees that would see the largest percentage cuts would produce the smallest savings. For instance, cutting the Homeland Security’s budget will only save the government $16.6 billion compared to the $177 billion Ryan wants to pull from the farm committee’s pockets.

Still, even when it comes to dollar amounts, the Agriculture Committee comes in a distant third compared to the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees, which would both see about $1.3 trillion in cuts over the next decade.

The Verdict

Peterson correctly points out that his committee would see a 25 percent reduction in spending if the Ryan budget is passed. That’s a lot of money, but Peterson misleads people when he contends that other committees aren’t in the same boat. In terms of percentages and dollar amounts, other panels would see bigger cuts.


The Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Peterson: Ag subsidy cuts excessive, by Tom Hintgen, April 12, 2011

The House of Representatives Budget Committee, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget – Fiscal Year 2012, accessed April 14, 2011

Congressional Research Service, Reductions in Mandatory Agriculture Spending, Jim

Monke and Megan Stubbs, May 19, 2010

Interview, Liz Friedlander, spokeswoman, House Agriculture Committee, April 14, 2011

Interview, Brian Riedl, The Heritage Foundation, April 14, 2011


The Humphrey School

  • Ross Peterson

    Collin Peterson is not misleading on his statements. The legislative jurisdiction of the House Agriculture Committee pales in comparison to the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees. Particularly as it relates to entitlement spending.

    Ways and Means has partial or full jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and taxes. Energy and Commerce has partial jurisdication over health care entitlement programs. That is why in Ryan’s budget they are targeted for more than $1.3 trillion. And a large portion is probably tax cuts.

    What Peterson is claiming is that the Agriculture Committee is taking a disproportionate amount of entitlement cuts compared to other similar committees. And he is correct.

  • David H

    Ross, Maybe you should read what the Congressman said. You can spin all night long and the truth will still be that numerous agencies will receive similar cuts. Please get your hero Peterson a crying towel also. 15 trillion in debt and all he can do is bend the truth and whine.