Who Passed the Food Stamp and Farm Bill in the Senate?
The food stamp and farm bill is a perfect example of how big-government special interest groups operate in Washington. Under the auspices of helping farmers, the Senate went ahead and passed the bill by a vote of 66-27. Like you, we’ve read reports about the “overwhelming support” the bill received:
The Senate overwhelmingly voted Monday to expand farm subsidies and make small cuts to food stamps in a five-year, half-trillion dollar measure.
Here is what the news articles didn’t tell you: the majority of Republicans opposed the bill; in fact, only 18 Senate Republicans voted in favor of it. Remember, there are 46 Senate Republicans, so that is less than 40 percent.
For the good of taxpayers, consumers, and farmers alike, the House should oppose the food stamp and farm bill. Because Republicans control the House, there is more hope to kill the bill there.
However, even the House poses a challenge. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has already indicated that he will bring the bill to the floor as early as next week. However, given the strong Republican opposition in the Senate, it is reasonable to wonder if the Speaker will encounter a problem with the Hastert Rule in the House, where Republicans are the majority. Recall, the Hastert Rule means that no bill should be brought to the floor for consideration that lacks the support of the majority of the majority.
This morning on ABC News, George Stephanopoulos asked Boehner about his approach to the House’s immigration bills. Boehner said he’s interested in giving both sides a “fair shot at their ideas”:
I– listen. I’ve allowed the House to work with– t– well, more than any speaker in modern history, to the point where there are some bills that have passed– with a majority of Democrats– in favor, and a minority of Republicans… and I’ve been criticized for it.
Yes, he has been criticized because those bills contained terrible policy that only served to grow government. The House should lead in a way that helps Americans rather than allowing bills to move forward that increase our debt and deficit. The trillion-dollar food stamp and farm bill isn’t really about helping farmers; it’s about appeasing influential special interest groups in Washington.
Interestingly, as our nation ascends to insanely high debt, guess who is experiencing record low levels of debt.
Current [farm bill] subsidy programs are rooted in the 1930s, when prices for crops and livestock bottomed out and farm families were desperate for income. Agriculture today could not be more different. Farmers are pulling in record-high levels of income and carrying record-low levels of debt. Technology has eliminated many of the risks that once plagued farming, and the profitability of unsubsidized crops demonstrates that independent agriculture is viable. So there is no way to justify continuing to give tens of billions of dollars to the farm industry.
The House cannot ignore this reality.