The farm bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday is pretty much a disgrace. Republicans took legislation that had historically been 80 percent food stamps and 20 percent mostly awful and antiquated agribusiness subsidies. And they passed something that is 0 percent food stamps and 100 percent mostly awful and antiquated agribusiness subsidies.
"Billions for farmers, nothing for the poor" is a stark assessment, but a fair one.
Food stamps -- or, as they are now officially called, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) -- went out to more than 46 million people in 2012 with the average individual receiving just over $130 in benefits. That's 73 percent of the monthly grocery bill for men under the USDA's "thrifty" plan, as the Washington Post explains in the graph below. The current program lapses at the end of September.
The GOP's aversion to funding food stamps is cultural and deeply ideological. But the less obvious background music playing here is the powerful and pernicious role of money in politics.
Three weeks ago, in a report that had nothing to do with farms, the Sunlight Foundation revealed that just 0.01% of the U.S. population -- one ten-thousandth of the country -- accounted for 28 percent of all disclosed political donations in the 2012 election. About one-third the capacity of a large football stadium funds about one-third of national elections.