Anyone trying to figure out why Americans don’t trust their elected officials need look no further than an October 17 New York Times article. Entitled “Farmers Facing Loss of Subsidy May Get New One,” the William Neuman-penned piece reports that “in the name of deficit reduction,” Congress, backed by “major farm groups,” is considering eliminating a $5 billion farm subsidy — only to turn around and enact another farm subsidy costing almost as much. “In essence,” observes Neuman, “lawmakers would replace one subsidy with a new one.”

Many observers of the political scene suspected that the creation of the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee was just a sham to allow legislators to increase the debt ceiling while giving the appearance of being serious about long-term deficit reduction. With each bit of news that trickles out of Congress, such suspicions are being borne out.

In stealth succession on Wednesday evening, both the House and Senate approved three so-called free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. The Obama administration claims that the three pacts will boost exports by $13 billion and result in the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs.

Now that Congress has extended the due date for the Postal Service’s $5.5 billion pension plan payment to November 18th, various proposals to modernize and “rightsize” the service have appeared. The most comprehensive is the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act, which endeavors to allow the service the freedom to do what needs to be done to keep it operating as a quasi-government agency. 

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the TRAIN Act, which calls for establishing a committee to analyze the economic impact of recent regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Representatives John Sullivan (R-Okla., left) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced the bill in May. "TRAIN" is short for the bill's imposing title, "Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011."