The Republican House of Representatives has reached new lows in cutting SNAP (food stamps) at this time of high unemployment and increased food insecurity. However, the farm bill that they did pass increased funding for agribusiness & the wealthy through farm subsidies. For more context, read the whole of Paul Krugman’s column today. Krugman points out that the farm subsidies are where the bigger theft of taxpayer funds is happening.
When the House begins work on a farm bill this week, conservatives will target the growing food stamp program, which they complain is rife with fraud and waste. But critics say conservatives are overlooking problems in other farm programs.
Government audits and court records show hundreds of millions of dollars in losses due to fraud in a variety of farm programs, including crop insurance and subsidies that help agribusinesses promote their products abroad. The rate of food stamp fraud, on the other hand, has declined sharply in recent years, federal data shows, and now accounts for 1 percent of the $75 billion program, or about $750 million a year. (emphasis added)
That’s from a news article, not Krugman’s column. It definitely looks like the Republicans are not watching where the money goes. But the best play in this farm bill fiasco came from Rep. Jim McGovern who introduced a pointed amendment:
During a House Agriculture Committee hearing recently, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, offered an amendment to delay cuts to food stamps until the percentage of improper payments in the crop insurance program matched the error and fraud rate for food stamps. The food stamp error rate is 3.8 percent, according to Agriculture Department data, while the rate for the crop insurance program is 4.7 percent. (emphasis added)
Naturally, the Republicans voted his amendment down. It would be surprising for them to help the people who are down and out and need it most. But what Rep. McGovern did is what more Democrats need to do every chance they get: point out that the Republicans will not help the Americans who need it most, and Democrats will. Hopefully it will lead to Democrats taking over the House again.
Because as long as Republicans control the House, there is no hope for the people at the bottom.