Editor's note: John Stoehr is managing editor of the Washington Spectator, an independent political periodical published monthly by The Public Concern Foundation.
House Republicans pushed through a trillion-dollar farm bill - approved by the Senate Tuesday - that will cut food stamps by $8 billion over the next decade and reduce food allotments for more than 850,000 households by around $90 a month.
The measure passed despite opposition from Tea Party Republicans who were seeking even more savage cuts. If the Republican Party hopes to revive the Bush-era idea of "compassionate conservatism," this isn't the way to do it.
The bill was the culmination of a three-year battle over food stamps, also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. House Democrats who supported the measure said they compromised. This version, they said, was better than previous ones; Tea Party Republicans had wanted a 5% cut, not 1%. The White House has signaled that President Obama will sign the bill.
That the legislation slashes aid to hungry children might be justifiable if it didn't also hand out $90 billion over 10 years - $7 billion more than before - in subsidized crop insurance to farmers, which virtually guarantees revenue. The agribusiness lobby, which includes large farming concerns as well as publicly traded corporations like Monsanto and Kroger, spent $111 million pressing lawmakers, according to Bloomberg. That's more than the defense and union lobbies combined. Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat who voted against the measure, called it "nothing more than reverse Robin Hood legislation that steals food from the poor in favor of crop subsidies for the rich."