Adding to the mounting body of evidence that there is nothing of value to be had from our leaders in Washington we have the House passage of a new Farm Bill. Two things you need to know about this monstrosity. First, the SNAP (aka Food Stamps Program) was stripped out of the bill and will be dealt with separately. I’ll come back to that. Two, this bill is so bad that even the Heritage Foundation suggested that the Republicans had managed to out Obama Obama.
Supporters of this farm-only farm bill wasted the golden opportunity that separation could have provided: the ability to promote policies that benefit taxpayers, farmers, and consumers in a fiscally responsible way. With the passage of this bill, the House has gone even further to the left than the Senate bill. It would spend more money than Obama on the largest farm program, crop insurance.
On top of all this, the process House Republicans used to get this 600-plus-page bill to the floor in a mere 10 hours essentially violates their own promise to conduct business in an open and transparent manner. They prohibited legislators from introducing amendments. And, they played a game of bait and switch by claiming this bill was the same text from the failed House farm bill of a few weeks ago.
In fact, they made this new bill even worse—by making sneaky changes to the bill text so that some of the costliest and most indefensible programs no longer expire after five years, but live on indefinitely. This means the sugar program that drives up food prices will be harder to change, because it doesn’t automatically expire. It also means the new and radical shallow loss program that covers even minor losses for farmers will indefinitely be a part of the law.
So, Republican’s are just as craven, devious and constituent driven as the Democrats and just as willing to spend other peoples’ money. Shocking isn’t it. If you harbored any lingering illusions that included the Republican Party as the repository of fiscal rectitude discard them. They are demonstrably just as irresponsible as the Democrats.
Severing SNAP from the Farm Bill made sense assuming responsible improvements including spending restraint could be incorporated into the programs separately. The alliance of urban legislators getting what they needed for SNAP while the rural representatives appeased their constituencies worked but at the cost of unconstrained growth for both programs. Sadly, relieved of the need to compromise the Republicans went off the rails. SNAP badly needs reforming but after this fiasco I don’t see how anyone who professes to want fiscal restraint can argue for any pullback in that program.
A bad day for Republicans, a worse day for fiscal conservatives but a victory for hypocrisy.