The House GOP believes in welfare – just not the kind that goes to help the poor, sick, students, elderly or working class. Thursday’s vote to cut food stamps embodies what House conservatives are all about: giving billions away in corporate welfare to the richest with taxpayer dollars.
They are also about helping themselves. Before they rushed off to summer recess House Republicans voted in favor of a farm subsidy bill that was condemned by sensible conservatives as well as progressives for continuing to give wasteful subsidies to Big Agra.
Now, 10 of the members of Congress who receive those agriculture subsidies, either directly or indirectly through trusts or businesses hold by themselves or their spouses, voted to cut funding for low-income people whose only request is a modest meal.
The proposed bill would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as the “food stamp” program) by nearly $40 billion over a decade.
Included among the members of Congress who voted to cut SNAP benefits are these members of Congress who received subsidies through the farm bill in 2012. The only recipient of farm subsidies in 2012 who voted against the benefit cut was Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), co-owner with his wife of Triple V Dairy Farm. Figures are from the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Database.
- Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.). His wife, Caroline Aderholt, is a 6.3 percent owner of McDonald Farms according to 2008 ownership records. McDonald Farms received $66,891 in direct payment farm subsidies in 2012. She also personally received a $345 direct payment in 2012.
- Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.). He and his wife Lynn Fincher are each 50 percent partners in Stephen & Lynn Fincher Farms. They received a $70,574 direct payment farm subsidy in 2012.
- Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). A trust named Lowell and Viky Hartzler Family Revocable Trust is listed as a 98 percent owner of Hartzler Farms, which received $697 in direct payment/ACRE and $686 for the Conservation Reserve Program for a total of $1,383 in 2012.
- Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.). His wife, Vicky Sheldon Kline, is listed as a 20 percent owner of Sheldon Family Farms LP, which received a $3,025 conservation reserve program payment in 2012. EWG’s estimate of the conservation reserve program payments Ms. Kline received is $605 for 2012.
- Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calf.). He and his wife Jill LaMalfa are each 16.67 percent partners (combined share totals 33.33%) of DSL Lamalfa Family Partnership, which received $188,570 in direct payments for 2012.
- Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). His wife Lynda Lucas received $14,584 in disaster payments in 2012.
- Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas). He received a 2012 direct payment of $339.
- Rep. Kristi Noem (R- S.D.). She received $1,400 in direct payments in 2012. Through 2008, USDA listed Rep. Noem as a 16.9 percent partner in Racota Valley Ranch.
- Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.). He received a 2012 direct payment of $6,654.
- Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). He is a one-third owner of Thornberry Brothers, which received a $5,103 direct payment and $4,078 in disaster aid payments in 2012. EWG’s estimate of the farm subsidy benefits Thornberry received is $3,060 in 2012.
In our jobless recovery, food stamp benefits are more important now than even. Last year SNAP lifted 4 million people out of poverty, including 1.7 million children. A total of 47 million Americans have relied on SNAP benefits this fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the House’s legislation would deny 3.8 million people, who are already living on an average of $1.33 per meal, access to SNAP. This includes 177,000 veterans who rely on the program.
It’s perverse to weaken our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and poverty by $4 billion per year while giving hundreds of billions to big corporations that don’t need them. Here are a few examples of what your hard-earned tax dollars are spent on:
$7 billion per year subsidizing the oil industry.
$600 billion—15 times the value of proposed food stamp cuts—over a decade by allowing corporations to stash cash overseas.
$1 trillion over a decade be allowing special tax exemptions and loopholes for multinational corporations and wealthy households.
$137 billion over a decade by not negotiating prescription drug prices.
Over $20 billion per year on farm subsidies.
It’s not rational or right, but this is who they are. Conservatives aren’t being fiscally responsible; their policies are destructive to our economy.
Cutting domestic programs that Americans rely on to get by, especially in these tough economic times, only burdens other programs and increases spending. For example, the $10 million that was cut from Meals on Wheels due to sequestration will end up costing the federal government $479 million due to the rise in Medicaid costs because less-well-fed seniors will end up getting sicker. The $40 billion in SNAP cuts will no doubt generate their own costly consequences. We can be certain of one consequence: Economists estimate that every dollar spent on SNAP generates $1.73 to $1.79 in economic growth; the House cuts will therefore exact a toll on economic growth.
The middle class grows the economy. People need to eat—not corporations. The House GOP knows this, but prefers to remain gluttonous while the majority of Americans are still starving for economic equality.
America is facing tough decisions; feeding our most vulnerable over subsidizing our wealthiest shouldn’t be one of them.