Liberals accuse GOP of not caring for the poor; GOP responds by killing Food Stamps funding

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. SNAP, is the technical name for the “Food Stamps” program. The first food programs for the poor were introduced in the late 1930s and those programs are under the authority of the Department of Agriculture. In the 1970s, these food programs were added as part of the regular Farm Bills that go through Congress every 5 years. The core point of the Farm Bill is to maintain a stable food economy because without a stable food and farm economy, there can’t be ANY stable economy. During the Great Depression, the Farm Bills were used to provide subsidies to the farmers asking them to not grow food, because there was an large excess of production with a drop in demand causing the prices to bottom out. The danger was that this short-term economic problem would permanently destroy many of the farming businesses. We didn’t want to come out of the Great Depression and then not be able to keep up with increased demand for food, so we bolstered the farmers. The Farm Bills have changed over time because we have faced different economic issues over time. In modern bills, the subsidies to farmers are generally structured as crop insurance, in order to provide security against crop failures due to disease, weather, etc. Those crop insurance subsidies often will guarantee 80% of projected revenue so that farming corporations have a financial baseline. One common criticism of the farm subsidies is that they primarily go to the largest, and most profitable, farming corporations which are the entities which need it the least. 

We could have a lively, spirited discussion of whether or not the Farm Bill itself is good, bad, or a mixture. It’s a very complex issue and I don’t have all the answers on it. 


The Republican Party has long been accused of loving the rich and despising the poor. Let me be clear to start, I know many Republicans who do not despise the poor. They are very charitable and loving people. However, I think those caring, charitable Republicans are at odds with the political Republican Party and elected Republicans seem to repeatedly provide evidence of supporting the rich, supporting corporations and simultaneously removing the support mechanisms for the poor. Mitt Romney’s 47% comment is just one example, but it is indicative of a large portion of conservative Americans. The idea is that half the country are free-loaders who do not take responsibility for their lives and refuse to take care of themselves.

Mitt Romney: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. 

And so my job is not to worry about those peopleā€”I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

(If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend reading this elegant explanation of Romney’s 47% comment.)

Many Congressional Republicans (and media-celebrity Republicans, talking-head Republicans, etc.) have spent a LOT of time throughout my life trying to divorce themselves from this negative stereotype. Perhaps they would be more successful in convincing us all if they would stop acting like it. They would be more successful in convincing us if they didn’t keep giving us evidence to the contrary.

Which brings us back to the Farm Bill. 

The House of Representatives just passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill but the House Republicans stripped the SNAP program out of the Bill entirely. And not just SNAP, several other nutrition programs for children and seniors were also stripped out of the Bill… but the subsidies and crop insurance for the massively profitable farming corporations were still included. So, when I hear Congressional Republicans (or media personalities or talking heads, etc) trying to deny that the Republican Party supports the rich and abandons the poor… it just doesn’t match up with reality. 

Many of the Republicans I talk to seemed shocked or offended when this topic is brought up to them, but please… I would love to hear a justification for cutting food programs for the poor, for children and for seniors, while maintaining the programs for massively wealthy farming corporations and I would recommend making it not sound as insulting and as condescending as Mitt Romney’s 47% comment. Here are some comments in this vein which I’ve heard from Republicans in the past (I know they sort of sound strawman-ish, but they really are paraphrases from real Republicans)…

“We’re going broke, we can’t keep spending money!”

That doesn’t explain why to fully cut programs for the poor while still providing help to the rich, so it’s not a valid argument for the Farm Bill.

“Welfare programs just encourage people to be lazy.”

If that is true, then corporate subsidies just encourage those corporations to be lazy, so it’s not a valid argument here.

“There’s too much fraud and abuse of welfare programs.”

There are fraud and abuse in every program, this isn’t a quality of welfare programs. Fraud and abuse exist in programs provided to large corporations as well. 

“Food stamps shouldn’t be part of the Farm Bill anyway. It should be stripped out and put into a separate bill.”

This one is the closest to valid I have seen, but this is just an argument from procedure. It dodges the content of topic. If SNAP and other nutritional programs are good in a separate bill then they are good inherently and therefore should be good in the Farm Bill. This argument is just an attempt to deflect in the short-term and to rely on the dysfunction of Congress and the Republican Obstructionism to block that separate bill from ever existing.

Am I missing any of the big ones? Can you provide me an explanation of why we should screw the poor but keep paying the corporations?