The Tea Party really hates poor people (i.e., more farm bill)

So, I wrote my recent farm bill posting rather hastily and quickly took the NYT account of things (which was basically the GOP in its own words) rather than dig a little further.  I was quickly emailed by a friend who we’ll just say really knows the workings of Congress to tell me how wrong I was.  My friend’s email was a good explanation of all this, but even better, was Jon Chait’s post on the matter today.  The Tea Party Republicans didn’t reject the farm bill because of agricultural subsidies, but because it didn’t cut enough from the mouths of hungry Americans.  Chait:

Basically, there is no reason at all for the government to single out farmers for special support, as opposed to any other kind of business owners. If I were looking to cut domestic spending, or even if I weren’t, farm subsidies would be the first thing to go, the most unjustifiable government program of any significant size…

Unfortunately, even though congressional Republicans are looking to cut domestic spending, most of them regard agriculture subsidies as an especially meritorious program, not an especially awful one. Some of them want to cut it deeply or even do away with it, but not enough. And the main dynamic that prevents reform, and the reason the farm bill ultimately went down on the House floor today, is that the conservatives who do want to cut agriculture subsidies will only do it if they can also kick the living crap out of the poor.

Agriculture subsidies have traditionally been bundled together with food stamps, in order to create a legislative coalition. (Farmers like the fact that food stamps mean more people can buy their food.) But in recent years, conservatives have gone from tolerating food stamps to absolutely loathing them. This year, House Republicans have attached to their farm bill deep cuts in food stamps…

And the Republican cuts to food stamps are just mean (and stupid).  It’s almost like an Onion parody of political cruelty:

The House farm bill imposes enormous food-stamp cuts, many of them in the form of staggeringly punitive conditions. It would cut off for eligibility, for instance, anybody with even a few thousand dollars of assets, including a modest car, which would force some families to choose between a vehicle they may need to get to and from work and food stamps. It would deny food stamps to anybodyever convicted of a violent crime, even decades before. That state of affairs being considered not punitive enough, the House voted the other day to let states deny food stamps to the unemployed — which is to say, you lose your job, and your family also loses the thing that lets it keep eating. That latter amendment carried the support of all but six House Republicans, including Paul Ryan, most recently seen trying to rebrand himself as a Kemp-style bleeding-heart lover of the poor.

Now, of course money is fungible and poor people can eventually use their food stamps to enable them to get crack, a new microwave, or HBO, but the program is nonetheless designed as a food program for people who cannot afford to buy enough food to eat.  Of all the programs for the poor to single out to cut, this is the least morally justifiable.  Occam’s razor: Republicans hate poor people.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to The Tea Party really hates poor people (i.e., more farm bill)

  1. Mike from Canada says:

    It’s funny how the Republicans believe in more freedom, less government, except when it comes to the poor. They always say t’s always better for the people to make decisions how to spend their money, unless that money is government money going to the poor.

    I guess the poor and unemployed are simply too stupid, drug addicted, violent or unreliable to make their own decisions and life choices. Except the choice to starve.

  2. Pingback: Jesus Returns, Kicks It With Kanye, Then Leaves - GURU - GURU

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