"Elections have consequences." That phrase isn't always a knell of doom, by the way:
House Republican leaders have decided to drop food stamps from the farm bill and are whipping the farm-only portion of the bill for a vote that will likely come this week, according to a GOP leadership aide.
The nutrition portion of the bill would be dealt with later.
The Rules Committee is expected to post the text Tuesday night and meet Wednesday, the aide said.
And this is what is at stake:
[House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor has privately been pushing to separate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, from the farm provisions. According to the Congressional Budget Office, SNAP accounts for $743.9 billion of the estimated $972.3 billion cost of the House bill over the next 10 years.
...and let's just clear this up right now: yes, that means that we're potentially going to see the government rack up $228.4 billion in subsidies to the agricultural industry over the next ten years. And yes, I don't know why we even have a Department of Agriculture, either. HOWEVER: we are in fact trying to break Congress of its habit of throwing six bad, insanely expensive ideas together and calling it a 'comprehensive' bill. If the GOP-controlled House passes the smaller farm bill on its own, the Democratic-controlled Senate will probably scream a bit and give in, because the agricultural industry will be screaming at them to get them their fix. And then, once that bill is done, the Democrats get to go on and try to explain to American taxpayers why we need a three quarters of a trillion dollar food-stamp program; that should go quite nicely with their pinky-swearing that the economy's recovering. Which is to say: it won't, because it's not. And the economy's structural weakness will be revealed as a result.
I'm sorry to have to bring up all these dirty politics into what should be a nice, soul-fulfilling ideological mass rant and everything; but don't expect the farm bill to shrink much farther. We got a somewhat unexpected win here by making it into a farm bill, frankly.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Never forget, ye Democrats: a critical number of the House Republican caucus are demonstrably unconcerned about having to explain how they killed the ENTIRE farm bill. Nancy Pelosi seriously messed this one up for her side; the woman keeps thinking that she's the Speaker, and it's messing up her reflexes. Which is generally why ex-Speakers typically retire from the House.
PPS: Yes, I know that Heritage Action absolutely hates the farm portion of the bill. So do I. But I don't think that Heritage or any of the other groups mentioned here are going to get much more than the ability for reform-minded Congressmen to propose open-order amendments. And, honestly, I'm not sure whether they think so, either.