Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Somewhat Surprising Outcome

(Editorial cartoon by Jack Ohman and published 6/20/13 by the Sacramento Bee.  Click on image to enlarge and then return.)

As I noted on Monday, there were lots of reasons to expect the House to pass its version of the Ag bill, not the least of which is that some of the congress critters personally benefit from farm subsidies.  There is also the fact that House Speaker Boehner has been adhering to the "Hastert Rule", bringing bills to a vote only when their passage is assured.  That's why I am somewhat surprised by the defeat of the bill this week.

From the Los Angeles Times:

A revolt among rank-and-file Republicans helped kill the farm bill in the House on Thursday, the latest vote to reflect the influence of conservative groups that have often been at odds with the chamber's GOP leadership.

More than a quarter of the Republicans joined with most Democrats to defeat the nearly $1-trillion bill to reauthorize farm subsidies and nutrition programs, legislation that has traditionally been bipartisan.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that he supported the measure despite a few objections because it would institute some needed reforms.

But prominent outside forces, including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, urged Republicans to defeat it. Both groups oppose farm subsidies, but focused their objections on the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, which made up most of the price tag. ...

"The food stamp program is out of control," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who rode the tea party wave to election in 2010. "It has grown 430% since 2001. And this bill did little if anything to curtail that out-of-control spending."

The Club for Growth has achieved considerable sway over the rank and file because it has spent money to support conservatives in primary challenges. Incumbent Republicans, many in districts that are more conservative since redistricting, now increasingly fear the threat of a primary challenge more than the general election. Both conservative groups said they would use Thursday's vote in considering whether to support incumbents in Republican primaries.

At the same time, fewer Democrats remain in the House who represent districts with sizable rural populations. Just 24 Democrats supported the farm bill. Most Democrats protested the measure, saying that cuts to the food stamp program, known as SNAP, were too deep and would hurt low-income families.   [Emphasis added]

Yes, the wackaloons don't want the poor to eat on the government's dime, even though many of them are poor because of the Great Recession helped along by the government's inaction/misaction since 2001.  But the rest of the GOP shouldn't have minded:  many of its biggest supporters would get their own welfare from the subsidies.  And what about those 24 Democrats?

Well, you can go here and see just how each member of the House voted. And then you can go here and see just how pervasive the Ag-business money is on both sides of aisle.

Of course, the Senate Bill is only slightly better:  the cuts to SNAP are there, they just aren't as deep.

I suppose the failure of the House to pass the bill is a blessing in disguise.  Sorta.  Kinda.

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