The House is expected to separate food stamps from the agriculture programs of the farm bill. This would be a major victory for those seeking reform, and the House should be commended for this action.
However, the House has been considering taking the agriculture sections of the previously rejected House farm bill and packaging them together as one bill. This agriculture-only bill could be voted on soon, without any legislator from either party being allowed to introduce an amendment.
The House is missing the whole point of separation: By separating food stamps and farm programs, each can be considered on its own merits in two distinct bills, making real reform a possibility. The House, though, would ignore the need for reform if it just repackaged the agriculture sections of the failed farm bill.
This agriculture-only farm bill:
- Spends far more than President Obama on the most expensive farm program (crop insurance).
- Adds new programs that would guarantee payments to farmers.
- Creates a radical new program that would cover even minor losses suffered by farmers. Even the American Farm Bureau Federation expressed concern over this minor loss system.
- Doesn’t make even one reform to crop insurance (unlike the disastrous Senate bill).
- Doesn’t make even one modest reform to the sugar and dairy programs that drastically drive up food prices for consumers.
- Hurts low-income families by preserving policies that drive up food prices, which have a disproportionate effect on the poor.
- Protects corporate welfare programs, such as a wealth-transfer program that shifts money from taxpayers to major corporations for their overseas marketing.
- Gives the Obama Administration the green light to tax Christmas trees and wouldn’t touch other commodity tax programs.
These problems are only magnified by the fact that there would be a closed process not allowing amendments to the bill. The House would be trying to shove legislation down the throats of the American public without allowing their Representatives a chance to shape the bill.
The current agriculture portions of the House bill need to be reformed. They were flawed when they were combined with the food stamp program, and they will still be flawed if they are separated from food stamps. These sections don’t magically get better by being on their own.
When a bill makes Obama look fiscally responsible, it’s a financial fiasco. When the process would trample on open and representative government, it’s an insult to American citizens.