Playing Politics with Farm Bills and Food Stamps
“[Food stamps] should continue to be included purely from a political perspective. It helps get the farm bill passed.” –Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Let that one sink in…
That is the Washington Establishment’s perspective on food stamps and the farm bill in a nutshell. It’s an old Washington trick— create an alliance of various special interest groups to pass massive spending bills.
While making the case for this farm bill longstanding alliance, Sen. Chochran illustrated this problem perfectly. Nearly 80 percent of the spending in the trillion dollar “farm bill” goes towards food stamps. And he wants to keep it that way.
Did you know that 1 in 7 Americans is on food stamps?
Hold your applause, you of liberal persuasion. While some of this is due to the struggling economy, which is burdened by President Obama’s oppressive laws and regulations, much of this record food stamp participation is thanks to things like “broad-based categorical eligibility.” This means states can substantially broaden their food stamp eligibility standards, weaken income limits, and waive the asset limits entirely.
But if Washington politicians need food stamps to make the farm bill politically palatable, what’s so bad about the rest of the bill, and what are they trying to cover up?
Heritage explains that the whole bill is in dire need of reform.
It contains farm subsidies that constitute the nation’s largest corporate welfare program. Big wealthy farmers approve of the bill because it shifts the costs of agricultural risks to taxpayers through massive taxpayer funded subsidies.
Farmers ought to make smart business decisions like any other businessman or businesswoman in America. They should be “employing private insurance to help guard against the risks of their business without taxpayer footing any portion of the bill.” They can also manage risk with crop diversification and credit reserves.
Really, there are no excuses for the farm bill’s corporate welfare.
The farm bill is also bad for any American who has to buy food. It contains commodity quotas, subsidies, and tariffs that enrich certain upper-income producers at the expense of taxpayers and to the detriment of consumers.
At the end of the day, the farm bill debate is a perfect illustration of the differences between conservatives and liberals, and with the farm bill on the horizon again, Congress must take conservative recommendations seriously.