12:25 PM, Sep 25, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Rep. Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee in the Arkansas Senate race, is running an ad highlighting his leadership in trying to fix Washington's broken farm bill legislation. The ad isn't particularly controversial ormaking false claims, in any discernible way and yet "fact checkers" at the Washington Post and PolitiFact have pretty savagely attacked it. Once again, the fact checkers are wrong on the merits. But more than that, there's something very fishy about their Cotton critique.
You can watch the whole ad, but here's the supposedly objectionable claim Cotton makes:
“When President Obama hijacked the farm bill, turned it into a food stamp bill, with billions more in spending, I voted no. Career politicians love attaching bad ideas to good ones. Then the bad ideas become law, and you pay for it.”
As far as legislative sausage-making goes, there are few spectacles more off-putting than Capitol Hill's periodic farm bill extravaganza. The farm subsidies are bad enough on their own, but for decades the bill has also included funding for the unrelated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps. The result is the worst kind of bipartisanship—rural Republicans compromise on bloating the cost of food stamp funding in exchange for Democratic votes to get their farm subsidies.
This unholy union has been in place for decades, and it's getting out of control. The farm subsidies are clearly excessive, and whereas foodstamps were 55 percent of the cost of the farm bill in 2002, they made up 80 percent of the cost of the bill this year. Furthermore, every time Republicans vote for a pork-filled farm bill they get called hypocrites for claiming to oppose unnecessary handouts.
In 2013, Tom Cotton was among a number of House Republicans who tried to change this sorry state of affairs. They broke the farm bill up into two bills—one for farm subisdies and one for food stamps. Republicans would have to own the cost of their farm subsidies, and Democrats would have to justify the ever-increasing cost of the food stamp program. And taken on their own, there would be no perverse incentive to buy votes to pass a comprehensive farm bill. The House passed a farm bill without the food stamp component in July 2013.
Alas, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House did not like the idea of having to justify their out-of-control spending and exerted a great deal of pressure to make sure the sorry farm bill status quo continued. President Obama released a statement condemning the House breaking up the farm bill the day after the House passed a stripped-down version. The White House further released a report in November 2013 titled “The Economic Importance of Passing a Comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.” The farm bill that eventually passed in January recombined the food stamps and farm subsidies, and Cotton was one of 63 Republicans who voted against it. As Dan Holler at the Heritage Foundation tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD, "It should come as no surprise that the food stamp reforms are failing and the new farm programs appear to be more costly than projected."
So what is wrong with Cotton's ad? Here's the crux of Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler's argument:
Look at the dictionary definition of hijacking: “to steal or rob…to subject to extortion or swindling.” Is that what Obama did when he said that Congress should continue to do what it did in the past? Or was breaking up the farm bill the more radical step?
The most problematic aspect of Cotton’s ad is that he suggests that attaching food stamps to the farm bill was a new idea—something that he was fighting against. But that’s invented history. As we have shown, this “bad idea” has been in place since before Cotton, 37, was born.
11:00 AM, Feb 20, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
A recently released Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on the "Food Assistance Landscape" for the fiscal year 2013 shows that for the second year in a row, participation in the federal government's SNAP (food stamps)
8:15 AM, Sep 5, 2013 • By RYAN LOVELACE
The federal government paid more than $74.6 billion last year to provide 46.6 millions Americans with food stamps. This is an astonishing increase, even for this era of rapidly rising federal spending. Four years earlier the comparable figures were $34.6 billion in benefits for 28.2 million recipients.
Hosted by Michael Graham4:36 PM, Aug 16, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with R Street Institute's Lori Sanders on her recent story: Why the GOP needs a reform agenda for anti-poverty programs -- reforms that emphasize work, family, and economic freedom.
Food stamp trafficking a record $858M in 20117:58 AM, Aug 16, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on Thursday regarding illegal trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. The report showed that the rate of trafficking rose from 1 percent of total benefits in the last study period of 2006-2008 to 1.3 percent in the current study period of 2009-2011, an increase of 30 percent. The report noted the trafficking rate remains well below a rate of almost 4 percent that existed for much of the 1990s. The rate plunged to 1 percent by the 2002-2005 study period and remained there until the current report:
The poverty of the GOP’s antipoverty agenda.Aug 26, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 47 • By LORI SANDERS AND ELI LEHRER
After five decades of liberal antipoverty programs that have produced only failure and futility, it is more than time for a conservative response to the problem of poverty—one that emphasizes work, family, and economic freedom.
9:40 AM, Jul 12, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The day's trending theme (that would be a "meme" for those not in the know) seems to be that Republicans have become a tribe of nihilists who aim not to improve efficiency in government and make it better but to pour sand in its crankcase and jam its gears.
6:22 PM, Jun 10, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Two charts on food stamps spending, provided by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee, just as the Senate is voting the food stamps program (which is part of the so-called farm bill):
8:44 AM, Mar 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an article titled, "Use of Food Stamps Swells Even as Economy Improves," the Wall Street Journal reports that "The financial crisis is over and the recession ended in 2009. But one of the federal government's biggest social welfare programs, which expanded when the economy convulsed, isn't shrinking back alongside the recovery."
Nearly a quarter of the people living in Washington, D.C. are on the program.9:13 AM, Mar 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
On Friday, the United States Department of Agriculture quietly released new statistics related to the food stamps program, officially known as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The numbers reveal, in 2012, the food stamps program was the biggest it's ever been, with an average of 46,609,072 people on the program every month of last year. 47,791,996 people were on the program in the month of December 2012.
8:16 AM, Dec 14, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The federal government is now spending $110 billion on "all food assistance" per year, according to new analysis by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee. The federal dollars spent on these programs has risen by nearly $70 billion in just ten years.
Here's a chart from the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, showing how spending has increased over the last dozen years:
9:39 AM, Nov 2, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
With the latest jobs report, it is now the case that "Under Obama, Food Stamp Growth [Is] 75 Times Greater Than Job Creation," according to statistics compiled by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee. "For Every Person Added to Jobs Rolls Since January 2009, 75 People Added To Food Stamp Rolls."
12:51 PM, Oct 16, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Food stamps enrollment has hit a new record high. 46,681,833 are now enrolled in the social welfare program, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the federal department that runs the program.
6:25 PM, Oct 10, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
A new chart provided by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee details the alarming fact that enrollment in federal social welfare programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Disability have far outpaced job growth over the last four years. Here's the chart: