Late last night, the House Rules Committee decided upon a final amendments package to the nearly $1 trillion food stamp and farm welfare bill. Floor debate is underway today and will continue on Thursday and possibly into next week. Despite Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) promise for a "fair process that will allow for a vigorous and open debate," the Rules Committee once again adopted a structured rule. As a result, some conservatives seeking desperately needed reforms to both food stamps, which comprise 80% of the bill, and farm subsidies will not get a vote on their amendments.
With the country nearing $17 trillion in debt, it is disheartening to see Republican leadership (which controls the Rules Committee) limiting mechanisms that would help rein in spending and reduce the ever-expanding size of government.
There was a litany of solid amendments that would have helped improve this atrocious piece of legislation. One of them, offered by Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), would have separated food stamps from the bill by striking the Nutrition title. This bold, much-needed reform would have demonstrated some lawmakers are serious that business as usual in Washington should come to an end.
The Rules Committee, however, claimed Rep. Stutzman's amendment was out of order because it prevented $20 billion in "savings" found in the bill. This type of Washington logic repulses hardworking Americans outside the beltway. Rep. Stutzman's amendment would've removed nearly $800 billion in food stamp spending from consideration and would have directly eliminated the food stamp title from the bill-yet we're to believe that his amendment would have cost taxpayers money?
Furthermore, President Obama announced on Monday that he would veto the farm bill over what he considers "unacceptable, deep cuts" to food stamps. This claim is both disingenuous and laughable. Food stamp spending doubled under both Pres. Bush and again under Pres. Obama. Since 2008, food stamp spending has gone from $40 billion a year to nearly $80 billion a year. The House bill would only cut food stamps by 2.5% and the Senate bill would only cut food stamps by a, wait for it, whopping .5%!
Where most people see Congress using a pocket knife, the President apparently imagines a chainsaw.
If anything, the President's veto threat proves how important it is to finally end this unholy food stamp and farm welfare alliance and consider these programs individually. Furthermore, it should be a clear sign to Republican leadership in the House that whatever "good" reforms are implemented on the House floor will wind up in the garbage heap during conference with the Senate.
Congress should do the right thing for taxpayers and consumers and oppose this bill.