Get excited for more “farm bill” drama, coming soon to Congress

posted at 1:21 pm on September 5, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Earlier this summer, we watched the unexpectedly high-drama saga of the “farm bill” play out in Congress, and when lawmakers reconvene next week, it’s going to be a major action item that the leadership will want to wrap up before the current legislation expires at the end of September — even as the looming budget battle and the Syria debacle will probably occupy a lot of attention.

Here’s your refresher course on the pending status of the new legislation, as succinct as I can make it: The “farm bill” has traditionally contained both “agriculture policy,” ahem, and the outline for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e., food stamps) — the deliberately omnibus design usually helps to ensure the passage of both urban and rural interests’ favored programs and protect the status quo. The budget for food stamps has more than doubled in just five years, but the Senate passed a renewed version of the farm bill that made only the most miniscule, practically nonexistent spending cuts possible to the food stamps program (read: an oh-so-brave and far-sighted $400 million/year out of an annual budget of now almost $80 billion). The House then took their turn at crafting matching legislation, and came up with a version that dared to make the wildly draconian cut of $2 billion a year, gasp, to food stamps. The White House immediately shot the idea down, but the issue suddenly and dramatically became moot when the House itself rejected the omnibus package with bipartisan opposition. Out of nowhere, lawmakers where suddenly talking about divorcing “agriculture policy” and food stamps into two more transparent bills, and for one brief, shining moment, it looked like we might get both some serious and reasonable cuts to both food stamps and the egregious corporate welfare divvied out to the agriculture sector and their many lobbies… But then, House Republicans voted through the agriculture portion as a single bill without really reforming our market-distorting and pork-tossing agricultural programs much at all, and we’re still waiting for the House version of a bill for the food stamp program.

Whew. Anyhow, the Washington Post reported last week that the passage and precise details of a food-stamp bill are still in legislative limbo, but no matter what the House comes up with, we can assuredly expect plenty of demagoguery and demonization from the Democrats about how Republicans must just really hate poor people, because there is absolutely no other possible explanation for proposing such silly ideas as fiscal responsibility. I’m sure we’ll be seeing references to this new study just released from the USDA, ensconced in the obligatory New York Times story:

On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture released a 2012 survey showing that nearly 49 million Americans were living in “food insecure” households — meaning, in the bureaucratic language of the agency, that some family members lacked “consistent access throughout the year to adequate food.” In short, many Americans went hungry. The agency found the figures essentially unchanged since the economic downturn began in 2008, but substantially higher than during the previous decade.

Hmm. According to the study, an estimated 14.5 percent of households were food insecure at at least some point during 2012, while the prevalence of “very low food security” was unchanged from 2011 at 5.7 percent. To clarify, the USDA’s definitive dichotomy of food insecurity consists of “low food security,” meaning “reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet” with “little or no indication of reduced food intake,” while “very low food security” refers to “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” I suspect that the NYT’s “49 million Americans living in food insecure households” is meant to sound a good deal more drastic than it actually is, but that isn’t even my point here. There is unquestionably a lot of very real material hardship through which far too many Americans are fighting right now, and the almost seven million households struggling in the “very low” category is certainly way too many. As the NYT so aptly points out, however, “the figures are essentially unchanged since the economic downturn began in 2008, but substantially higher than during the previous decade.”

Real-world translation: The Obama administration’s agenda and the subsequent Obama economy is shrinking household incomes, shrinking labor force participation, and growing our GDP at only a stagnation-level rate, which is exactly why food-stamp enrollment has skyrocketed and there are so many more food-insecure households. Republicans do not want to do away with food stamps: They want to engender a robust, wealthy, and inclusive economy in which people neither want nor need food stamps because there are so many more attractive opportunities. The path to creating said economy does not include throwing around more money we don’t have in a wildly misguided attempt to cover up the symptoms of the problem and ignoring the actual disease.

In related news, this just happened, via Breitbart:

Arizona authorities have broken up a massive food stamp fraud ring in Phoenix and seized almost $700,000 in cash.

K&S convenience store workers Kameel Sweiss, Ameer Sweiss, and Faday Sweiss were arrested on Wednesday on charges of suspicion of illegally conducting an enterprise, fraudulent schemes and artifices, money laundering, unlawful use of food stamps, and computer tampering.

“People were essentially selling their cards to [the] store,” said spokesperson Stephanie Grisham.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says the bust is the fifth of its kind this year and that this is the largest to date.


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Is there anything actually “farm” related in these bills because they seem to be all special interest payoffs for everything but farming.

I hate our politicians. Is there any way to strap each one to a cruise missile headed for Damascus, if so then count me in as a new supporter of military action in Syria.

Bishop on September 5, 2013 at 1:26 PM

That looks like road kill on top of Cantor’s head.

celtic warrior on September 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM

This is the easiest thing to fix, but the hardest because of the lobbyist.

The problem isn’t the graft, that’s a given. You can use these cards almost anywhere. When you choose a Kwikie Mart, you’re doing so for a reason and the “authorities” know it.

The real problem is the food lobby, beyond farming.

Do you really think Unilever, ConAgra, etc…want to see this cut back?

Do you really think Wal-Mart or any other giant food retailer wants to see this process made harder?

There’s a reason Buffet bought Heinz.

And this is the bridge the GOP does not want to burn. The ripple effect for slashing SNAP is too may shareholders will take a kick in the ballz as “the market reacts negatively”.

budfox on September 5, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Along with food stamps to the takers and parasites, how about ethanol subsidies to the taker, parasitic Iowa farmers.

Old Country Boy on September 5, 2013 at 1:37 PM

I can’t contemplate the Farm Bill with all this Syria stuff going on…sorry…

PatriotRider on September 5, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Who is paying off the gop leadership?

What emails do they have on Cantor, McCarthy, Boehner, Ryan?

I’m tired of trying to figure out if they are just plain stupid or Progressives like Obama and the rest of the Ruling Class.

Now I just want to know who owns them on this vote or that.

Or are there videos or emails showing them with Saudi hookers?

PappyD61 on September 5, 2013 at 1:43 PM

The undermining of America continues apace.

What’s a little pork, when debt is $17 trillion (nominally anyway) already and corn prices have been manipulated into outer space? Who cares about worldwide food supply disruptions when corn farmers are feeling the need to get as rich as possible off government largesse?

MTF on September 5, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Hey, glad that whole IRS misunderstanding got resolved… What.

Fallon on September 5, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Obama CHANGED the eligibility rules for food stamps. These changes are the MAJORITY of the increased costs!

1) The food stamp program must be tied to existing welfare programs

and

2) The eligibility rules for ALL of these WELFARE handout programs must be reviewed and DIRECTLY defined by law as the regulators are STEALING from the treasury for their own POLITICAL advantages!

Freddy on September 5, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Who is paying off the gop leadership?

What emails do they have on Cantor, McCarthy, Boehner, Ryan?

E-mails? Nah,its gotta be lots of money all the way, baby. It’s so easy to buy our politicians a caveman could do it.

hawkeye54 on September 5, 2013 at 2:14 PM

2) The eligibility rules for ALL of these WELFARE handout programs must be reviewed and DIRECTLY defined by law as the regulators are STEALING from the treasury for their own POLITICAL advantages!

Not a chance with the current usual suspects in charge. More handouts means more grateful voters, bigger budgets for wielding greater power with the pols and perennial job security for the bureaucrats.

hawkeye54 on September 5, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Republicans … They want to engender a robust, wealthy, and inclusive economy…

Not a readily proven hypothesis. I would suggest they simply want to retain thier fancy committee seats and perquesits.

Gus Bailey on September 5, 2013 at 2:22 PM

This is the omnibus bill with all the pet projects and pork. Every republican and every democrat want to pass this turkey even when they say they dont. They only say they dont when they think we are paying attention. The Syria crisis and the debt limit provide the perfect cover for these rats to slather on the fat and pass this hog.

paulsur on September 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

We don’t need a farm bill. Kill it.

EddieC on September 5, 2013 at 3:08 PM

She was about 40-50 lbs over weight. Bought $17.58 worth of stuff in front of me at the grocery store. About the most nutritious thing she had was a frozen pizza that went along with a 2 liter coke, some chips and a few other things. Paid with her Lone Star EBT card. I paid $7.44 in cash for my SOS pads and some rat poison.

Her new Camry with paper plates was parked next to my 10 year old F150…

DanMan on September 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM

She was about 40-50 lbs over weight. Bought $17.58 worth of stuff in front of me at the grocery store. About the most nutritious thing she had was a frozen pizza that went along with a 2 liter coke, some chips and a few other things. Paid with her Lone Star EBT card. I paid $7.44 in cash for my SOS pads and some rat poison.

Her new Camry with paper plates was parked next to my 10 year old F150…

DanMan on September 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Probably registered in one of her other names.

slickwillie2001 on September 5, 2013 at 5:26 PM

…what Republicans?

KOOLAID2 on September 5, 2013 at 10:40 PM