Query: When is a farm bill not a farm bill?
Answer: When 80 percent of it, or $700 million of the farm bill, is for food stamps.
Last week, the House rejected the $940 million farm bill by a vote of 195 to 234. Republicans in the House were right in not supporting the farm bill because it is a sham.
Under the tenure of President Obama, the food stamp program has doubled and has become one of the most prolific and abused welfare programs in our nation's history. The president even threatened Congress that he would veto the bill that was defeated because it did not spend enough on food stamps.
A record one out of every five American households, over 23 million in all, is now on food stamps. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that the number of households in January 2013 was 23,087,886 households, 889,154 more than the year before. There are 115,310,000 households in the United States.
Some Republicans in the House and Senate believe that a food stamp bill should stand on its own merits and not be attached to a bill that is supposed to aid farmers. But, there are some Republicans who believe that by keeping food stamps in the farm bill it adds leverage to getting help for farmers.
This amounts to a game of bribery, not legislation. You mean to say that urban legislators are willing to hold hostage America’s farmers unless agricultural welfare is permitted and expanded? Sadly, for years the answer is yes.
As Heritage Foundation experts Daren Bakst and Diane Katz explain
“The food stamp portion creates a reason for urban representatives to support farm subsidies, and for farm-state lawmakers to support food stamps.
Talk of de-politicizing agriculture programs and welfare policy is met with stiff resistance. For example, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently told the North American Agricultural Journalists group that food stamps should continue to be included in the farm bill “purely from a political perspective. It helps get the farm bill passed.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the last farm bill, in 2008, to cost $604 billion. The new House farm bill is projected to cost a whopping $940 billion. This is 56 percent more than the 2008 farm bill. If this wasn’t bad enough, the actual costs will likely be much greater, just like the actual costs of the 2008 bill.
The House farm bill was rejected because Democrats believe it was too stingy with regard to food stamps while the Republicans rejected it because it was an outrageous expense that America could not afford.
At a time of continued fiscal crisis, shouldn’t the priority of government be to cut its costs?
All the while, farmers were scratching their heads as to why there was no talk of farms in the farm bill debate.
Now that the farm bill has been defeated, it is time for America to put pressure on the Congress to cut special interests, cut entitlements, focus on efforts to update antiquated farm policy, and reign in food stamps, aka “Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
Now is the time to stop the charade and carve out food stamps from the farm bill.
The farm bill should be addressing reforms to the farm commodity program and to eliminate the outrageous “direct payment program” that pays farmers for doing nothing.
By the way, what does it say about the effectiveness of President Obama’s economic policies if he sees the need to double his food stamp program? Isn’t it better to create a job than to create government dependency?
In America we do not need a “bumper crop” of food stamps — we need to reap the benefits of a robust harvest of sustainable and abundant farms from New York to California and every place in between.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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