Should House Republicans be put on suicide watch?
Many, Via Meadia included, had hoped that the rise of a Republican majority focused on deficit reduction in the House would be the catalyst to finally cut farm subsidies—one of the country’s most wasteful and ill conceived programs. At a time when annual farm income has reached a record $101 billion, such subsidies are clearly unnecessary.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. The New York Times reports that the House Agriculture Committee’s new farm bill aims to cut food stamps by more than $12 billion while actually adding new subsidies to agribusiness:
The House bill, which passed 35 to 11, would reduce food and nutrition spending by more than $35 billion, mainly by cutting about $16.5 billion from the food stamps program. The Senate bill cut about $23 billion in spending, with $4.5 billion in savings coming from food stamps. About 80 percent of farm bill spending goes to food stamps. [...]
Under the House bill, money is put into new price support programs to see peanut, cotton and rice producers through deep, multiple-year price declines. The price supports and new insurance programs for peanuts and rice address concerns by Southern rice and peanut growers who have traditionally relied more heavily on direct payments. These farmers objected to the Senate’s version of the farm bill saying it did not provide enough of a safety net with the elimination of direct payments.
The House Republican majority certainly looks like it’s trying to destroy itself. The combination of raising agricultural subsidies by billions of dollars and cutting food stamps is one of the most stupid, self-destructive moves an American political party could make.
A party with principles might cut food stamps and farm supports. A party with no principles but good political instincts might spend more on food stamps and farm subsidies. But to cut food stamps while subsidizing big agriculture manages to make Republicans look hard-hearted and spineless at the same time.