Farm Bill – Prolonging the Food Stamp Tragedy and Farm Subsidies

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 Americans.

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

Farm Bill – Prolonging the Food Stamp Tragedy and Farm Subsidies

The Farm Bill should be called “Prolonging the Food Stamp Tragedy and Farm Subsidies.”  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R, Ohio) has pronounced he will vote for the bill.  The following chart from Heritage Foundation reflects the tremendous growth of food stamp-use in good times and in bad.  One major reason for the growth is the immoral log-rolling; rural Republicans receive farm subsidies in exchange for increased Food Stamp allocations wanted by big-city Democrats.  

As explained in a previous post:

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. 

Log-rolling produces bad policies, limited oversight, and a lack of debate on the efficacy of government programs.  Certainly, Boehner knows the Farm Bill will perpetuate bad policies.  He has not voted for a Farm Bill since 1996 and has opposed specific subsidies within the bill.  Now, he has announced he will vote for the bill, and reasons the bill made some beneficial changes.  According to Roll Call:

“[He] plans to vote for this one because it contains significant reforms,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Monday in an email to CQ Roll Call. “He will also support an amendment to add further reforms to the bill by further overhauling the dairy program. If these reforms don’t pass the House, taxpayers end up with no spending cuts and another extension of current law, and current law is lousy.”

Yes, the current law is lousy, and the House and Senate versions of the bill essentially differ on cutting food stamps by $4 billion or $20 billion over 10 years. Horribly, both versions extend the two programs, which should be reconsidered and reorganized.  Besides, both programs should be debated and accepted (or rejected) on their merits.

Hence, separate foods stamps from the Farm Bill, have a public discussion on both bills, and vote.   By the way, this is the how a democracy should determine all policy decisions.  It’s time to stop the despicable log-rolling and prolonging lousy programs – food stamps and farm subsidies.  In other words, Congress stop your continuing corruptions.