Tom Vilsack tries to change the subject, but a slush fund is still a slush fund

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack published an op-ed in direct response to an op-ed written by CEI’s Patricia Patnode in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Patricia submitted and the paper ran a letter to the editor in November responding to some of the claims levied by Secretary Vilsack. Here is the text of that letter:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Oct. 31 Gazette op-ed “USDA is standing up for American producers” responded to my Oct. 22 op-ed. Yet it’s not clear what he disagrees with, except wanting me to hammer the Trump administration.

I argued that no administration should have what amounts to a USDA slush fund. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the spending power and should decide how the taxpayer dollars of Americans are spent.

Secretary Vilsack doesn’t counter this, but talks about how he is using the slush fund. He fails to address the question: who should decide how to spend taxpayer dollars?

Then, he simply asserts that my op-ed is a “thinly-veiled complaint” against the climate program he created out of whole cloth. So instead of actually responding to what I wrote, he makes up what he thinks is the intent of my even-handed piece.

But make no mistake, I don’t support him spending over $3 billion for a climate program that Congress never specifically authorized. And if the program was for some other purpose, I wouldn’t support it either.

The House has included a provision in its agriculture spending bill to stop the abuse of this slush fund. Senator Grassley and other senators have introduced legislation to address this problem as well.

Slush funds are ripe for abuse and corruption. They are antithetical to separation of powers and preserving our representative form of government. There’s no place for them in any agency, including the USDA.