Earlier I posted about Rick Crawford’s mistake where he said he agree to tax increases if the Democrats tried to balance the budget. Now he has allowed a bloated bill that includes Food Stamps to get out of committee and it has angered the conservative Cato Institute.
Posted by Tad DeHaven
In the latest example of the so-called “Tea Party Class” of House Republicans not living up to the hype, GOP freshmen on the House Agriculture Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve a bloated $957 billion farm subsidy/welfare bill.
The overall vote was 35-11. Only 4 Republicans voted against it – the rest appear to be Democrats who weren’t happy that the bill doesn’t spend more money on food stamps. Republican freshmen occupy 16 of the 25 GOP seats on the committee. Only 3 out of the 16 voted against the bill.
- Bob Gibbs (Ohio)
- Tim Huelskamp (Kansas)
- Marlin Stutzman (Indiana)
Here are the names of the 13 GOP freshmen who supported it:
- Austin Scott (Georgia)
- Scott Tipton (Colorado)
- Steve Southerland (Florida)
- Rick Crawford (Arkansas)
- Martha Roby (Alabama)
- Scott DeJarlais (Tennessee)
- Renee Ellmers (North Carolina)
- Chris Gibson (New York)
- Randy Hultgren (Illinois)
- Vicky Hartzler (MO)
- Robert Schilling (Illinois)
- Reid Ribble (Wisconsin)
- Kristi Noem (South Dakota)
The question now is whether the House Republican leadership will allow the bill to come to the floor. According to the Washington Post, Speaker Boehner hasn’t decided:
Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., feels the committee did “an awful lot of good work,” Boehner said at a weekly news conference. But “no decisions about it coming to the floor at this point,” Boehner said…“There are some good reforms in this bill. There are other parts of the farm bill that I have concerns with,” Boehner said. He referred to what he said was “a Soviet-style dairy program in America today and one of the proposals in this farm bill would actually make it worse.”
Boehner has voted against farm bills in the past so he’s probably not eager to get this one to the floor, especially since advocates for free markets and limited government rightly consider the bill to be a disaster. But Boehner helped create this dilemma for himself when his Steering Committee gave Frank Lucas the chairman’s gavel after the 2010 elections. As Chris Edwards and I noted in a recent op-ed, Lucas is a big supporter of farm subsidies and takes pride in having been named a “Wheat Champion” by the National Association of Wheat Growers.
Back in December 2010, I wrote that “An indicator of the incoming House Republican majority’s seriousness about cutting spending will be which members the party selects to head the various committees.” Lucas’s chairmanship indicated that when it comes to bloated farm bills, the House leadership wasn’t serious. If this bill is allowed to reach the floor, any doubts will have been erased.
Russ Vought of the Red State Blog noted:
The fundamental problem with incrementalism is that you can never win the argument, because you never set out to have a debate on principle.
Instead, the debate is always about making some federal program run a little better or cost a little less. It is never about the underlying benefit or activity being fundamentally inconsistent with a limited government or the Constitution. No matter how common sense the reform, the Left immediately demonizes the effort as a “cut,” either scaring the reformers to the sidelines or sparking the same ideological firefight that the reformers were trying to avoid. The reformers get caught unprepared to argue on principle, and the proposed reform itself then proves to be well south of the herculean political effort needed to get it signed into law.
Consider the “farm” bill just passed out of the House Agriculture Committee.
Its $957 billion over ten years. The last farm bill in 2008 was $604 billion over ten years—a 63% increase. 80% of the bill is now food stamp funding. This is because there are now 46 million individuals on food stamps, compared with 17 million in 2000 and 30 million in 2008 respectively. 1 out of every 7 Americans are on food stamps. Chairman Frank Lucas is proposing to tweak the program to save just $16 billion or 2%. The Left is predictably freaking out. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities claims that the, “Lucas-Peterson proposed farm bill would throw 2 to 3 million people off” food stamps. Assistant Democrat Leader James Clyburn is calling the reforms “an abomination.” This freakout will inevitably result in some compromise that is even more worthless.
This is not the approach that you would take if you were, say, trying to drastically roll back the welfare state. You would take a much harder line. You would break up the food stamp portion from the commodity portion. You would go back to pre-Obama or pre-Bush levels and block grant the program (surely the nation can exist on the same food stamp levels enjoyed by the Clinton Administration, no?). You would be proposing a work requirement for the food stamp program. You might bring back the paper stamps and discontinue the EBT system. In other words, you would force a real debate about food stamps and dependency in America—about what we can afford given our fiscal situation and how to get people off of welfare for their and our benefit.
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