Saturday, November 30, 2013

Under House Republicans The War On Poverty Has Morphed Into A War On The Poor


House Republicans may not have "the time" to vote on important measures with wide popular support like comprehensive immigration reform, ending workplace discrimination against the LGBT community (ENDA) or raising the minimum wage-- none of which Boehner will allow onto the 2013 schedule-- but they do have time to further attempt to steal the food out of the mouths of children by more chopping from the food stamp program. House Republicans look at the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and what they see is another chance to pass a bill to accelerate their endless class warfare against working families going through hard times because of the GOP ideological economic agenda that wrecked the economy. Lobbyists are drooling at the thought of their big Farm Bill payoff.
The top leaders of the House-Senate farm bill have come close to a framework during several tense negotiating sessions in the past two weeks, raising hopes on K Street that legislation could squeak through Congress by the end of the year. The four negotiators spoke via conference call Tuesday and reported no new developments.

“Everyone is still working hard to bring this together, which is what you want to see,” said lobbyist Tom Sell of Combest and Sell, who as a staffer was instrumental in crafting the 2002 Farm Bill.

“I’m in the optimist camp,” said Chandler Goule of the National Farmers Union. “There is plenty of time to get this done. Every time there is a meeting, there has been progress.”

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), House Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Senate Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) failed to resolve their differences in a Monday conference call.

The biggest sticking points are cuts to food stamps, and work requirements in the House farm bill for recipients of that aid.

The House bill cuts $39 billion from food stamps, while the Senate's cuts $4 billion.

The White House is pushing to limit the food stamps cuts, and on Tuesday released a report that shows how many dependent families are on the program.

Food stamps were automatically cut by $11 billion on Nov. 1, when extra money provided under President Obama’s stimulus law expired.

Stabenow wants to count the $11 billion for the farm bill and is arguing against cuts that go beyond what is in the Senate bill. Republicans say that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cannot credit the farm bill with that deficit savings since it already happened.

Reaching an agreement on food stamps is key to resolving the two main problems in the farm subsidy title. Bigger cuts to food stamps gives negotiators more wiggle room to deal on the farm subsidies and still get a sizeable deficit-cutting score that could win over fiscal hawks.

“There is a lot of work left to do,” said Dale Moore, executive director for public policy of American Farm Bureau. “They need to make the decisions at the top end of the decision tree and then the rest will fall into place.”

On commodities, the House farm bill calculates subsidies by relying more on actual planted acres than what farmers planted historically.

That can be said to more accurately reflect risk, but at the same time it can distort the market by encouraging more production. The House bill offers more generous subsidies but forces producers to chose between price supports and revenue-based margin insurance.

The rift on farm subsidies can be bridged more easily than the one on food stamps, as was evident when corn, soy and canola producers floated using a rolling average of recent planted acres.
The cuts that already began this month translate to 20 fewer meals per month for every child and every vet who is struggling to survive on food stamps. This conservative class war against the poor has got to stop. But it will only stop if voters want it to stop enough to refuse to vote for Republicans and refuse to vote for New Dems, Blue Dogs and other right-wing Democrats. And it isn't just religionist hypocrites like Stephen Fincher (R-TN) who are guilty. Democrats in Congress should refuse to vote for the Farm Bill if it includes any cuts to food stamps until unemployment gets to 3%. Only 15 Republicans, almost every one of them cowering in blue-leaning districts, crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats against more draconian cuts. 217 Republicans voted for more draconian cuts. Almost all are Republicans the DCCC is running against. There are plenty of Republicans in blue-leaning districts who the DCCC isn't challenging and who all voted for the cuts.

Among those Republican class-war extremists who can be defeated but whom the DCCC gives immunity are Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, John Kline, Buck McKeon, Fred Upton, Mike Rogers, John Mica, Dave Reichert and, of course, Paul Ryan, who cynically insists he's fighting poverty even while he votes to cut food stamps. Paul Upton's and John Mica's constituents have been polled recently and in both cases, there is a clear willingness to end their careers and replace them with Democrats. But Steve Israel is protecting each of them and refuses to back either Paul Clements in Michigan or Nick Ruiz in Florida, their opponents.

Paul Clements told us that this class war jihad by Republican congressmen like Upton against working families is "deeply un-American. He voted for a bill that kicks 3.8 million people out of the food stamps program by 2014. Michigan still has 9% unemployment, many people have used up their unemployment benefits, and our food banks can’t keep up with demand. Many children in Fred Upton’s district already struggle with hunger. I wonder how much time Fred Upton has spent with children who don’t have enough to eat? We do not need more hunger in America. Mr. Upton, in America we can afford to feed our people."

Nick Ruiz is running against a worthless old hack, John Mica and he and Clements are on the same page. "In voting to cut food aid to citizens who need it most," asked Nick, "what exactly does John Mica hope to prove? That he's heartless? That he doesn't care about the health of citizens who are having difficulty providing basic nutritional food for themselves or their families? There's no greater sign of weakness and dishonor than to prey upon the weak or downtrodden: today John Mica has proven his worthlessness as a representative of all American families."

Help Blue America replace these class warriors like Upton and Mica, with leaders who want to solve the hunger crisis, not exacerbate it. You can find Paul Clements and Nick Ruiz here on our ActBlue page, as well as the other Blue America candidates, each of whom wants to deal equitably with families who have fallen on hard times.

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At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HK - does Steve Israel even deign to comment on his behavior? Even try to offer some rationale, no matter how implausible?

At 1:06 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Israel is delusional. Despite his huge loss last year at the DCCC-- as Obama won and the DSCC won gigantically-- he tried brainwashing dull-witted Democrats (particularly the elderly and less sharp Members) that he actually won. Nancy Pelosi actually bought it and reappointed him to chair the DCCC again, something that will guarantee that she will never be Speaker again.


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