Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Someone Should Go Hungry

As a staff full of people who grew up in or now live in Nebraska, there are some traits we share that are prototypically Nebraskan.

We all enjoy working hard, and we usually enjoy a "see food" diet - when we see food, we eat it, especially if it's good. We also tend to enjoy old-fashioned, common sense sayings about topics like work and food. For example, 'Those who do not work, do not eat."

That particular saying, in fact, has been on our minds recently as we've watched members of the U.S. Senate struggle, argue, and eventually come to a compromise on the 2013 Farm Bill, which they passed with solid bipartisan support on Monday, 66-27.

Of course, while the U.S. Senate was busting its ass, working hard to find compromise to get that farm bill passed, members of the U.S. House were effectively sitting on their asses, throwing placating remarks into the media about passing the farm bill, even as they continued to toss political and verbal darts at President Obama. Like immigration reform and the background check bill, serious doubts remain that the farm bill will even make it to the floor of the House this year.

That makes us more than a little bit angry with the do-nothing House of Representatives, where too many of its intellectually lazy and dishonest members - especially on the Republican side - have done little actual work this year.

Frankly, in line with that old work and food axiom, we're wondering if more of those House members shouldn't literally starve a bit, for motivation.

Yes, we're aware the "Farm Bill" isn't strictly about farms, but is really more about food for all Americans - how it's grown, what crops are subsidized, what happens to those crops when bad weather comes, and finally, how the food our nation raises and grows can be distributed to all Americans, not just the richest among us.

Brad Plumer over at Wonkblog did a fantastic job of dissecting the farm bill, and he breaks down the many component parts, from crop insurance and commodity programs, to subsidies and conservation. The biggest sticking point however, remains the portion of the farm bill that deals with food stamps.

While the Senate wants to cut about $4 billion from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for poor and elderly, tea party extremist Republicans in the House want to cut food stamps and other food programs for the poor by $20 billion or more. Hypocrites like GOP Rep. Stephen Fincher have displayed brutal attitudes towards the poor, even while he's been receiving his own farm bill welfare subsidies - $3.5 million worth - since 1999.

As The Economist magazine made clear in 2011, most Americans receiving food stamps are either children or elderly, and most are living far below the poverty line, even though they have at least one job. In other words, those people House Republicans want to starve are the working poor.

Meanwhile, when was the last time the U.S. House passed any worthwhile bills, with a majority of all House members, from all political backgrounds - that would also pass the Senate? Frankly, we can't remember the last time the Republican-led House of Representatives did anything that could seriously be called "work."

When it comes to the farm bill, we do agree with those lazy, selfish, extremist Republicans on one thing - someone should go hungry. We just don't think it should be the working poor.