January 29, 2014

Daren Bakst

Daren Bakst

By a vote of 251-166, the House of Representatives today passed a $956 billion bill to fund food stamps and subsidize farmers.

This bill is substantially worse than earlier versions of the legislation, one of which had followed Heritage Foundation suggestions to split the welfare and agriculture elements.

Heritage agriculture expert Daren Bakst explains how this handout-laden monstrosity came about in The Federalist:

In negotiating a new farm bill, the House and Senate have decided the best approach to work out their differences is by selecting the worst options from each of their bills and add them together into one terrible bill…

The name “farm” bill is itself a misnomer.  It’s really a “food stamp” bill since about 80 percent of its spending is dedicated to the food stamp program.  Politicians are forthright about why these unrelated programs are packaged together: politics.  Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Thad Cochran (R–MS) explained farm bill politics well when he argued that the farm bill includes food stamps “purely from a political perspective” since “it helps get the farm bill passed.”  Food stamps and farm programs are combined together so that the farm bill gets the support of the two distinct constituencies.  Urban members who support food stamps vote for the farm bill to protect their interests, and the rural members vote for their agriculture programs.

Do you think lawmakers were right to approve this legislation?

Comments (2)

John Kotchian - January 29, 2014

The bill hurts the American people. It harms the poor by making them more dependent and less self reliant and gives them no incentive to become self reliant. It enriches agri-businesses that don’t need help, and it puts a huge debt burden upon us and our children.

Suzy Foss - February 1, 2014

We must get control over Congress and rip this bill apart piece by piece in the future. I am a county commissioner in rural Montana. My county has 73% Federally controlled land, we get between .13 and .40 on the dollar to offset the loss of property taxes. Why this promise, that was made to the 49 states with federally held public lands with the implementation of the 1976 Federal Land Policy Management Act, is now considered pork and a political tool is beyond me. Yet it was attached to the farm bill which put tremendous pressure on good conservatives to vote yes or catch heck from counties they represent. Bad business as usual by the Feds!

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