Republicans and the Farm Bill: Socialism for the Rich, Bootstraps for the Poor
One thing that has been a staple of congressional compromise over the past three decades or so was the farm bill. The Democrats would -- generally speaking -- hold their nose and vote for the bill, which included agricultural subsidies to "farmers" ( the policy actually largely benefits Big Agriculture) because the bill also included money for food stamps (n/k/a SNAP), while the GOP would let slide they were voting to give government money to poor people (the "moochers") because the GOP gets the lion's share of agribusiness money.
Ayn Rand: GOP Heroine?
Of course, since the GOP has moved further to the right (further to the right, proportionally, than the Democrats have moved to the left; and if you think about it, it's even more pronounced as Southern Democrats don't really exist anymore), and since the Tea Party Republicans moved into Capitol Hill in 2010, the GOP will no longer brook giving money to poor people.
So last Thursday, the GOP voted (217-210) to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program while continuing the agricultural subsidies. Fox News did its part to get folks fired up by doing a segment on a surfer-bro from San Diego who, predictably, buys sushi and lobster with his $200 per month from SNAP. Yes, because this guy is representative of the people who receive food stamps -- he's not.
In fact, food stamp recipients closely track poverty rates. What is more, SNAP enrollment rose under one President George W. Bush.
But in today's GOP, Bush is a squish. Today's GOP is worried about the "moral fiber" of the poor. They need to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." Meanwhile we cannot raise taxes on the wealthy, er, job creators. Ayn Rand would be proud -- her philosophy has pretty much captured the tea party wing of the GOP.
What is more, even conservative intellectuals cannot understand why the GOP would support the agricultural subsidies -- which is, yes, a form of socialism. Even these thought leaders understand that SNAP helps people who are hungry. But the House GOP does not care. In fact, in what can only be called the epitome of chutzpah, Republican Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) received over $40,000 in farm subsidies -- he voted to cut food stamps.
These are the folks who run the GOP today. Cutting off food stamps to poor people while making sure that the well-off continue to benefit from the government trough is the ideology and economic thinking of who we elected in 2010. This is just and right in their world.