Why Don’t Democrats Want To Have A Straight Debate On Food Stamps?

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You would think a piece of legislation known as the “Farm Bill” would be mostly about farming, but it’s not. Roughly 80% of the “Farm Bill” is food stamps, and that causes a lot of headaches when it comes to getting the bill passed. Food stamps enrollment has grown dramatically in recent years, and the program needs reforms.

Republicans want to remove food stamps from the Farm Bill so that the policies actually related to farming can be passed on their own merits, with food stamps debated separately.

“This is lunacy, what is going on here,” Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson told the Fargo Forum in an article for which reporter Don Davis apparently couldn’t find any Republicans to quote.

Only in Washington DC could an attempt to separate what’s been agreed upon from what’s not been agreed upon in order to expedite legislation we’re told is vital to an important industry in the country be described as “lunacy.”

“I completely reject this Republican move to play political games with the livelihoods of U.S. farmers and the lives of hungry Americans,” Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum told the Forum. “It is time for the House to take up and pass the bipartisan Senate farm bill.”

But who is playing games with the livelihood of US farmers? We could ask why the livelihood of farmers is so tied to legislation in Washington DC – that in and of itself is troubling – but beyond that, what Republicans want to do is pass the legislation that directly impacts farmers right now while debating the controversial entitlement program that has nothing directly to do with production farming separately.

I think Democrats are outraged because that makes so much sense. They’re outraged because they can keep a lot of bad food stamps policy in place by tying it to unrelated agriculture policy and then beating Republicans up balking at food stamps policies by accusing them of hurting farmers.

It’s a neat ploy, but Republicans are calling the bluff.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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