In case you haven’t heard, our country is being hit by a
combination earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, nuclear attack, volcano, glacier
slide and invasion by space aliens bent on our utter destruction. Well, not
really, but one might be excused for thinking that if they listened to some of
the demagoguery emanating from the Capitol recently.
What has provoked this uproar? The farm bill, of course.
Specifically, it is because House Republicans voted to separate the food stamp
portion of the bill from the part that actually has something to do with
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who
serves as chair of the Democratic Party, said of the GOP action: “Ripping food
stamps from the farm bill is one of the most shameful acts Republicans have ever
taken.” Not to be outdone, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi opined that the bill
“dishonors the God who made us.”
Wow. Strong words from a couple of politicians who wouldn’t
know a sow from a soybean. But shocking statements are the ammunition of choice
for politicians who seldom let common sense get in the way of emotion.
Personally, I’m thrilled that the debate about separating
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the farm bill has gotten some
attention. Let’s let welfare bills stand on their own merit. And if we’re
willing to do that, let’s let farm legislation do the same.
Anyway, here are a few facts about SNAP of which Wasserman
Schultz and Pelosi probably don’t want brought to light: The program cost
taxpayers $81 billion last year, up from $38 billion only four years before.
In 2012, 48 million people received food stamps, compared to
28.2 million in 2008. If one believes it is a coincidence that the hike in
numbers and dollars correspond to the Obama term, so be it.
Here’s another one: Since the president took office, the
administration has quadrupled the amount spent on recruiting people to take
advantage of SNAP — yes, the federal government spends precious time and money
chasing people down to make sure they take advantage of the “free” food provided
by taxpayers. In addition, there is little effort to ensure that there is no
fraud in the program, which there certainly is.
Even without the element of fraud, it’s obvious the program
is grossly abused. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe the truly needy don’t
deserve a hand up once in a while.
But we’ve all seen how these types of giveaways morph into
multi-headed monsters. I spoke with someone the other day who observed a man at
a supermarket checkout line purchase four candy bars with a Link card. In
addition, I’ve heard numerous stories about people trading food stamp benefits
for alcohol, drugs or cash.
Pelosi, Wasserman Schultz and their ilk hate the thought of
removing SNAP from the farm bill because they want it veiled by totally
unrelated legislation. That way, they can pretend to care about rural America
while maintaining and expanding the welfare state on which their continued
political existence depends.
Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as
possible, the need for its own existence. As Ronald Reagan said, “We should
measure welfare’s success by how many leave welfare, not by how many are added.”
Washington liberals obviously use a different measuring stick.
This is not to claim that there is no wiggle room in the
agriculture portion of the farm bill. As taxpayers burdened with a
multi-trillion-dollar debt, we should eye all spending bills wisely, separating
the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
I don’t believe American farmers are afraid to open up the
farm bill for inspection. We in rural America can take it. Can the welfare
pushers do the same?