Morning Bell: Washington Is Cuckoo for Food Stamps
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation, June 20, 2013
FLASH: The U.S. House defeated the $940 billion food stamp and farm bill by a vote of 195 to 234.
The House is debating its farm bill this week—and now Democrats are saying it doesn’t spend enough on food stamps.
The “farm” bill, which isn’t how we picture farms at all, is actually 80 percent food stamps. Don’t forget that the food stamp program has doubled under the Obama Administration.
In an odd turn, House Republicans like John Boehner (R-OH) have thrown support behind this bill, which would lock in the Obama era’s historically high levels of food stamp spending.
But this isn’t enough for the White House. President Obama now says he will veto the farm bill if it passes, because it doesn’t spend enough on food stamps. Along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), he is decrying “cuts” to the food stamp program.
Cuts? The nearly $1 trillion bill in the House is projected to cost 56 percent more than the last farm bill in 2008. Actual costs will likely be much greater, just like in 2008.
>>> See our chart comparing the old farm bill to the new
Heritage agriculture expert Daren Bakst says, “That’s not a cut.”
Heritage’s Rachel Sheffield notes that “Far from deep cuts, the farm bill simply maintains historically high levels of food stamp spending” and that one in seven Americans receives food stamp benefits each month.
“This is not about being against food stamps or against farm programs,” Bakst says. “We’re not talking about taking away a safety net from the struggling small farmer. What we’re talking about is trying to develop some reforms to make some commonsense changes.”
It’s important for taxpayers to know how Congress intends to spend their money. And both food stamps and farm programs need reforms, not rubber stamping. The farm-related programs present their own set of problems: The House’s bill actually would spend MOREthan President Obama’s budget called for on the most expensive farm program. How did that happen?
With such a controversial, massive program at issue here, why not address food stamps separately?
Food stamps are in the “farm” bill for only one reason: “It helps get the farm bill passed.” That’s how Senator Thad Cochran (R–MS), ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, explained it.
That’s not a good reason.
A Farmer’s Case Against the Farm Bill
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