Political Animal


June 22, 2012 1:54 PM Food Stamps Versus Peanuts?

By Ed Kilgore

It didn’t get much attention in the chattering classes, what with the FastnFuror and the runup to the SCOTUS action on ObamaCare, but the Senate actually passed a Farm Bill with bipartisan support yesterday. As Ron Nixon of the New York Times reported, nobody was completely happy with the bill; Democrats accepted deeper food stamp restrictions than they wanted; environmentalists were less than excited about an expansion of crop insurance; and Republicans, of course, wanted less of everything other than anything benefitting their individual states. One disgruntled constituency to watch was the invariably difficult rice and peanut producers of the South, who are upset about the end of direct payments to big farmers and means-testing of crop insurance payouts.

With the action shifting to the House, however, the partisan dynamics will get far more difficult, as House GOPers following the Ryan Budget are going to insist on much deeper food stamp cuts and pursue a block-granting of the program to accompany their larger proposal to “block” Medicaid.

You could perhaps see something of an alliance between wealthy southern agricultural producers wanting some of their money back with Republicans wanting to decimate food stamps—but the southern farm bloc has so few Democrats these days that they can no longer deliver many votes across the aisle. The real push-comes-to-shove in any event will probably be on a House-Senate conference report after the House predictably passes a bill reflecting the Ryan blueprint.

For all the “bipartisan” ballyhooing over the Senate’s success in getting one of these huge suckers passed, it all does ultimately come down to the Ryan Budget versus the world, and thus final action on a farm bill this year remains unlikely unless it’s a hollow shell.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on June 22, 2012 2:26 PM:

    Ryan's plan is NOT a budget, so let's stop calling it "Ryan's Budget Plan."

    It's as if Dad, when doing the family budget says:
    "Ok, in the next few years, we as a family have gotta live cheap and tough to save for our future.

    We've got to trim the food, education, and health care budgets, toys for the kids, the phone, internet, and cable budgets, also social things like parties, and vacations, and also minimize electricity, heat, and hot water, to save money.

    Because Daddy needs that money for fine champagne, hookers, blow, and gambling, when he goes to Las Vegas for the next few years.

    But don't worry! I'll make a KILLING out there! And when I come back, we'll ALL be living on Easy Street from my winnings, from there on out."

    It's 'The Ryan Austerity Plan - For You and Me, But Not For the Rich and Corporations!'

    Or, 'The Ryan Tax-cut Into a Deficit Depression Plan.'

    It sure as hell ain't no budget plan.

  • boatboy_srq on June 22, 2012 2:46 PM:

    @CUND: You know, describing the Ryan fantasy, "champagne, hooker, blow and gambling" is probably as good a description of the 1%-specific tax breaks as we could get. Maybe if we could publicize that it would get more traction - and depictiong Ryan as pusher/pimp would just be icing on the cake.

    Captcha: "ngsyncyc him,". Maybe we should.

  • mmm on June 22, 2012 3:23 PM:

    I'm sure James O'Keefe could provide the pimp outfit.

  • TCinLA on June 22, 2012 4:00 PM:

    As Paul Ryan has said repeatedly, the moral thing to do is to help the rich more so they will work harder while we help the poor less so they will work harder.