After trying to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as part of a package with the Farm Bill, Republicans decided to separate the two and just pass the Farm Bill by itself. On top of that, they claim that Democrats should be happy because the Food Stamps program didn't get cut.
For now. But it is a pretty safe bet that what the GOP is really aiming for is to pick a fresh fight over SNAP on a standalone basis and then really go for the jugular -- with their pet Farm Bill safely out of harm's way. This is not just political deception but an insane amount of hypocrisy on the part of the Republican party.
How on earth do you stand up for agriculture while simultaneously denying the neediest people the means to obtain the fruits of that agriculture?
But in the alternate reality that is the Republican mindset, there seems to be no contradiction. I find the Republican policy of opposing any government program that helps low or middle-income people generally offensive, but this one actually has me flummoxed as well.
To my understanding, not to mention the understanding of any rational person, farmers produce food so that people can consume it, the government helps smaller farmers so that they can produce their food profitably in the face of competition from major corporations and setbacks suffered from natural disasters, and ultimately everyone is able to eat and survive. So given the end goal of all this, what would be the point of producing food if millions of Americans can't afford to buy it?
I do not have an objection to the Farm Bill. Even though it is arguable that the bill contains more pork than the hogs that farmers themselves raise and is an outdated holdover from a different era when the provisions of the bill were required to ensure America's subsistence, the protection of rural Americans' interests is important. But so is the protection of the interests of 47 million other citizens who require the assistance of SNAP. The notion that people who need Food Stamps are automatically freeloaders and parasites - which is the general Republican position -- is indefensible and harmful.
Luckily, the Food Stamps program does not require authorization by Congress to keep going, so the short-term is secure, but when the Republicans put it back on the table, it will be hunting season all over again on poor Americans.
A Republican friend of mine once told me jokingly that, "the GOP believes in the right to life... just not a good life." Sadly, that does not seem like a joke anymore.
SANJAY SANGHOEE is a political and business commentator. He is a banker, has an MBA from Columbia Business School, and is the author of "Killing Wall Street." For more information, please visit www.killingwallstreet.com
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