The New York Times says that President Bush is planning to seek major cuts in farm subsidies. If so, this would be absolutely the first time I can remember, after more than four years in office, that he will be actually acting on the rationally pro-market even when anti-business principles that conservatism (Chicago-style at least) has at its best. Recall by contrast four years of never vetoing a spending bill, the steel tariffs, the worst record on free trade since President Hoover (according to Bruce Bartlett), unsustainable tax cuts, ostensibly seeking to increase national saving through Social Security reform by borrowing all of the supposed new saving, etc., etc. If we are going to get conservative policy distributionally, it would be nice if we also got it economically in places where it makes sense, and this has not previously been the case under this Administration.
We're a very long way from seeing any proof that the Bush Administration is serious about cutting farm subsidies, or that it has the power to do so even assuming seriousness. But at least we have now a gesture towards a start.
UPDATE: Other blogs note that this may simply be a cynical ploy to get the credit for urging something that the Administration knows won't get through Congress, and may not even plan to push for. Worse still, they suggest that there may be a plan afoot to cut the combined Food Stamps/farm subsidies budget and then take it all out of Food Stamps. That would certainly be kind-hearted.