Farm Bill: Good for Politicians and Lobbyists – Bad for America

Democracy and Power 113: Vote Trading

“I’ll vote for your legislation, if you’ll vote for mine.” This is never said in public, but occurs constantly. Regularly, our leadership requests legislation, and a politician agrees to the request if our leadership includes his project. Politicians trade votes for their respective benefit, which is seldom for the benefit of most Americans.

Political insiders call this “log rolling.” The expense to the American public is enormous. This is a blatant taking of property, which incrementally reduces everyone’s wealth, security and freedom.

Farm Bill: Good for Politicians and Lobbyists – Bad for  America  

How does Congress enormously expand food stamps?  Now called SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  

Answer:  Don’t mention food stamps or SNAP.  Talk only of the euphemistic Farm Bill and hide the fact that 80% of the trillion dollar Farm Bill is for food stamps.

The Washington Post aptly explains the politics –er…log rolling.  Politician’s from the cities acquire more food stamps while rural politicians receive more in farm subsidies. 

Every five years Congress passed a farm bill that represented a deal between urban and rural states. The city folk got food stamps to help the urban poor (and the grocery chains that sell to them) and the rural folk got subsidies for commodity producers, as well as the boost in demand from food stamps.

Thus, city-Democrats and rural-Republicans both support the Farm Bill, but, again, don’t mention food stamps.  Read the recent words of Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.:

Because the Agriculture Committee worked across party lines to cut unnecessary programs and streamline others, we were able to reduce the deficit while strengthening initiatives that boost exports, help family farmers sell locally and spur innovations in new bio-manufacturing and bio-energy industries.

Again, no mention of food stamps.  But how did  bio-manufacturing and bio-energy get included?  More log-rolling.  Knowing the Farm Bill easily passes, every interest group attempts to become part of the log-rolling.  Hence, the Farm Bill includes subsidies, conservation, trade, rural development, research, energy, forestry and much more.

Harmfully, America has more and more politicians with zillions of pet projects supporting the Farm Bill.  Food stamps and the myriad of collateral programs expand without a serious debate on the efficacy and cost of these projects.
Will there be resistance by any political group?  The Republicans?  Probably not.

According to the Daily Caller, two, rural Republican Chairmen support the Farm Bill .  House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) has said he is “proud” of his bill, and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has called the Senate bill a “job creator.”

Why are self-styled conservatives doing this? The answer is as simple as it is cynical. Cochran recently explained that “purely from a political perspective” the inclusion of food stamps “helps get the farm bill passed.” 

So, the expansion of food stamps assures the passage of subsidies and privileges for agriculture.  What about the rest of America – the people buying food and paying for food stamps?  Who represents their interest?  Nobody.  Alas, most Americans are being “log-rolled.”