06.19.2013 9

Why are taxpayers paying $80 billion a year for food stamps?

By Robert Romano

In 2012, the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee were fond of noting that “Since President Obama took office, the number of Americans receiving food stamps has increased from 31.9 million to 46.7 million, a record 46 percent increase.”

In a Sept. 2012 Fox News interview, Republican nominee Mitt Romney repeated, “When the president took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. And now that number is 15 million higher, almost 50 percent higher. Now, 47 million people on food stamps.”

Generally, when it suited them politically, Republicans had few qualms about attributing the sharp increase in food stamps to the Obama Administration.

But how many remember the May 21, 2008 vote by 100 House Republicans to override then-President George W. Bush’s veto of the 2008 Farm Bill? You know, the legislation that dramatically expanded the eligibility of the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program — i.e. food stamps?

This was the bill that “[made] it easier for households with income from combat pay, retirement accounts or education savings to be eligible,” according to a USA Today Report by Wendy Koch in 2008.

If an increase in eligibility primarily explained the sharp increase in program participation, as a 2012 study by the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth showed, then surely those 100 House Republicans who helped pass the 2008 Farm Bill were instrumental in that effort.

Certainly, maximum benefits under food stamps were expanded in the Obama “stimulus,” but as far as qualifications for participating in the program being expanded? That was in 2008.

So, who were these House Republicans that helped put an additional 15 million on food stamps?

They included House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, who has been called House Speaker John Boehner’s top adviser. Rep. David Camp, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman. Rep. Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Critically, they also included Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee — who is responsible for the current 2013 Farm Bill. Now, the legislation proposes to spend about $750 billion on food stamps over the next ten years.

That is 80 percent of the cost of the entire $939 billion bill — and the most that has ever been spent on food stamps over a ten year period.

Oh, Republicans have been bragging about their proposed $2 billion a year cut to food stamps as some sort of reform, but the fact is the program cost $82 billion in 2013 alone. This is no significant reform of eligibility for the program. It is window dressing to make the House legislation appear to be ever so slightly, comparatively “better” than the Senate version.

But is it any wonder? It’s because there simply are not the votes to go back to pre-2008 eligibility for the food stamps program.

Heck, back in 2008, when the veto came up, only 94 members, a minority of Republicans in the House voted to maintain the Bush veto.

Yet another example of where Democrats and Republicans together vote to keep the spending machine going in Washington, D.C., something that has continued under House Speaker John Boehner. Need more examples?

A majority of House Republicans who voted against the tax bill that raised taxes on those making $400,000 and above, including many small businesses. Despite that, the legislation passed with a handful of Republicans and Democrats.

A majority voted against so-called hurricane “disaster relief” because it was unpaid for and was stuffed with billions in unrelated pork even as it passed with Democrat support.

House leaders needed Democrats to help to pass the most recent continuing resolution.

And a majority of Republicans voted to suspend the debt ceiling until May 19 — but they needed Democrats for that vote, too, in order for it to pass.

Just like in the vote on the continuing resolution that came before that. Or when the House increased the debt ceiling in 2011.

See a pattern? The House Republican majority is largely a fiction. It cannot pass significant legislation without Democrat support, but more importantly, it has been unable to keep its promises to rein in the government welfare programs they said they would.

All of which means the 2010 tea party push to help Republicans reclaim the House majority was predicated on a lie.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

  • pduffy

    It sure looks like we need a national apology to Joe McCarthy. Turns out he was right, and he should be awarded the medal of freedom posthumously. The American political machine has been infected with communists and the two party system is a myth. Conservatives have no representation in American politics, and the Tea Party was quickly co-opted by pretenders. The ‘divide and conquer’ technique applied by the liberals has been wildly successful. You have to give the liberals credit, as they have mastered the art of deception that has given them this advantage, as they have learned well from their predecessors. I believe it was Joseph Stalin who once said, “The best way to defeat the opposition is to lead it”, and the left has been leading the Republican party for decades now with fake conservatives. It’s masterful, brilliant, but pure evil.

  • Samurai_Sam

    I have long believed that the Republicans of old are long gone. Today’s pseudo Republicans have crossed over to the dark side in an effort to compete with the vote buying tactics of the Democrats. In so doing they have lost the support of true Republican’s who are unwilling to participate in this fraudulent practice, and who’s goal is to end big government pandering and spending.

    Unless Republicans are willing to get back on the right track there will be no party and we as a nation will be hurtling headlong down the toilet of Socialism and the destruction of America as envisioned by the Progressives.

  • Mike Fesler

    This is short and to the point:
    A Lesson in Irony.

    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.

    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is because “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

    Thus ends today’s lesson in irony

    Mike Fesler

  • AMM

    I love it!

  • Up_Front

    WHY? Here goes, because most of the posters (here) were obsessed with what goes on in (developing) third-world countries and described in a bad light. Instead of paying attention to the multitudes of young single mothers with too many kids and the absent male who fathered them. And the host of young (bare-faced-able-bodied-others) royally scamming the system whom, food stamps were certainly, NOT qualified for. I, who worked since I was 16 myself did benefit for a brief period due to serious illness decades ago & still thankful. So, now we’re ALL finally outraged with the cost of 80 billion $$$ and steadily growing. Sorry, but that’s my opinion.

  • cooltruth

    We used to have plenty of jobs available in this country so anybody who wanted to earn their own living could do so. Now our jobs have been exported elsewhere, apparently with the blessings of our government. We now need food stamps in order to feed ourselves because government allows outsourcing of our jobs! More jobs need to be available before cutting anybody’s food stamps (unfortunate, but true)

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