Sunday, September 22, 2013

Problem solved?: GOP cuts food stamps

In case you weren't paying attention, the House GOP's vote on the annual farm bill showed us two things: 1) food stamps for hungry people are bad; and 2) agricultural subsidies for Congressmen and rich farmers are good. What do those two things tell us?

It’s the juxtaposition of the two programs that so clearly exposes the party’s agenda. Anti-government ideology can justify even the most vicious cuts to the safety net. It can’t justify the massive socialist scheme that is agriculture policy. And, to be fair, conservative intellectuals generally don’t justify agriculture socialism. But the Republican Party certainly does. The ultraconservative Republican Study Committee recently banned the Heritage Foundation from its meetings because Heritage denounced the GOP’s farm subsidies. There is a grim hilarity here: Republicans punished Heritage for its one technocratically sane position.

The GOP's stance on these two issues also belies their hypocrisy on social spending:

Obama has attacked the GOP farm-subsidy bill for spending too much. Here is the one chunk of social spending where Republicans are not only failing to issue hostage threats to secure the cuts they demand, they are also refusing to cut spending as much as Barack Obama asks. And the program they pick to defend is, on the substantive merits, the most unjustifiable program of any significant scale in the federal budget.

But that's OK, because this wasteful federal spending doesn't go to black ghetto queens: 

It is also one that accrues to disproportionately wealthy and overwhelmingly white recipients. (As opposed to Obamacare, whose beneficiaries are disproportionately poor and non-white.) 

That's really the only thing that matters to Republicans nowadays. Because it's clearly not about the numbers. It's simply a question of: could this federal spending possibly benefit a single brown-skinned person who games the system, no matter how many people genuinely need it? 

More broadly, Republicans' present meme that, If only we could repeal Obamacare and reduce food stamps, our economy would take off!, is completely asinine and without economic merit.  We liberals and Democrats must not let such idiotic thinking go unchallenged as a "credible" policy alternative!

By Jonathan Chait
September 20, 2013 | New York Magazine

No comments: