The Emperor’s New [Farming] Clothes

For decades, the needs of agricultural rural states and more urban areas have been balanced by the once every five years Farm Bill. Farming states seek maintenance of the patchwork of subsidies and crop insurance programs in place for eighty years, and urban states answer the needs of constituents receiving nutritional assistance.  Never mind that rural states have SNAP/food stamp recipients in significant numbers, as well.

House Republicans now seek to separate the smorgasbørd of farm subsidies and insurance programs from SNAP. More than a century ago, Britain’s Queen Victoria ruled empire through the principle of “divide and conquer.”

George_Miller_(D)_incumbRep. George Miller (D-Calif.) recently published a report of Republican House members personally profiting from Federal farm subsidy programs.

A convenient law keeps recipients of crop insurance payments so confidential, one could believe the service record of the SEAL Team SIX commando who double-tapped Osama bin Laden would be easier to get. As the supermarket checkout line tabloid proclaims, “Inquiring minds want to know” at least who is getting all that crop payola.

Rep. Miller’s report lists fourteen House Republicans, including two who have garnered more than a million dollars in non-crop insurance farm payola. One, Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R), is even in MIller’s home state of California.

The big barnyard bounty bonus went to Tea Party conservative Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), whose family mega-farms made him millions in subsidies, and his family even more. Fincher, the part-time holier-than-thou Gospel singer, callously referred to social programs as “stealing” and proclaimed that “Those who do not work neither shall they eat.”  It must be that new-fangled “prosperity” Christianity, where Republican Jayzuz will make you rich if he likes you (and tough cookies if he doesn’t.)

During her ill-fated 2012 Presidential campaign, this columnist’s fave foil, Tea Party doyenne Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), was accused of benefitting from the big government farm subsidies she sometimes decried. Despite her denials, the industrious investigative fact-checking journalists at the Pulitzer-winning PolitiFact.com site dug up that the Minnesota gadfly claimed her hubby’s interest in his pre-”Pray away the gay” family farm, which also received farm subsidies over many years. Busted!

While not named in Miller’s report, Rep. Bachmann also parroted the arrogant “work or starve” faux-pious line while her family benefitted from farm subsidies.

SNAP program recipients have increased during the lingering recession from the Bush Administrations. Most of those families receiving nutritional assistance have children. In an era of skyrocketing corporate profits, and stagnant working wages,  the SNAP program rolls will shrink only when some of that prosperity “trickles down” to them.

Tell me again just why needy American families should have less on the dinner table so guys such as Rep. Fincher can rake in millions more in agricultural corporate welfare?