07.23.2012 0

The Farm (Food Stamp) Bill

Food StampsBy Rebekah Rast — Many bills that go through Congress often have misleading names.

One example that everyone has been talking about lately: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  Despite its name, the American people have been told by the Supreme Court that this law isn’t exactly affordable; instead it is a tax — or a penalty.

Likewise, everyone also remembers the economic stimulus of 2009, formally named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Again, despite the name and after more than $3.4 trillion from the government and Federal Reserve to prop up the economy, things aren’t much better.

Another current bill with a similar misleading name is the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, or more simply put, the Farm Bill. This bill is taken up by Congress every five years or so to address spending for, as its name suggests, farmers and agricultural interests.

However, in this year’s Farm Bill, totaling $969 billion for the next 10 years, 80 percent of the spending doesn’t have anything to do with agriculture or farming.

Even the U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the bill, which passed out of the Agriculture Committee but has yet to see a full House vote, has an equally large chunk of spending going elsewhere.

Where does that 80 percent go?

To SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — more widely known as food stamps.

Though both the Senate and House bills claim overall spending cuts in the food stamp program — the Senate bill cuts $16.5 billion over 10 years from the program and the House bill cuts an additional $12 billion more on top of that — it’s merely a drop in the bucket.

In fact, the Senate cuts of $16.5 billion over the next 10 years only amount to a 2 percent cut in the food stamp program.

For some perspective, in the 1970s just one in 50 Americans received food stamps. Today, that number is one in seven, or more than 46 million Americans, writes Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona.

In an effort to debunk the Democrats signature line that more funds for the food stamp program are needed because of the hard economic times of today, Star Parker, in a column for the Washington Examiner, writes:

“Liberals tell us that the mind-boggling growth of this program is explained by our floundering economy. But, as Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., points out, spending on this program increased 100 percent from 2001 to 2006, a period during which there was no increase in the rate of unemployment.

“From 2007 to 2011, spending increased another 135 percent. But CBO attributes only about 65 percent of the dramatic growth in program spending and the number of recipients to the recession.”

But never mind the facts.  The food stamp program has been greatly increased and the qualifications to participate greatly reduced.  Judging by past actions by Congress, what is put into place or increased is rarely, if ever, torn apart or decreased.

Therefore, with 80 percent spending of the so-called Farm Bill bill dedicated to this program, there should at least be some reason for it.  What are the benefits and how has it helped the American people?

Considering the number of Americans now eligible and on food stamps and the constant demand to increase the program, there aren’t many benefits to be found.  If the program was working, after a short time Americans wouldn’t need it and spending would decrease.  Instead all the facts point to the opposite effect.  If your food is being paid for, why would you give that up?

When one in seven Americans are benefiting from this program it’s no wonder it takes up 80 percent of an already-massive spending bill.

With increasing regulations and laws mandating American’s health care, taxes and welfare — the people’s dependency on the government is growing.

Meanwhile, under the guise of a bill title, these same Americans are often misled on what exactly their tax dollars are paying for.

This Farm Bill might be better suited with the title: The Food Stamp Bill.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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