The Farm Bill Died in the House and That’s a Good Thing

It’s a good thing because, through the amendment process, House Republicans took an already-awful bill, which was awful enough to garner a veto threat from President Obama, and made it even worse.

In addition to cutting $2 billion from the SNAP program, the House also approved this.

The House late Wednesday voted to give states the authority to conduct drug testing on people applying for food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). [...]

Democrats were outraged at the proposal, and said that by proposing it, Republicans are implying that people on food stamps use drugs. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said studies have shown people using SNAP are no more likely than nonusers to be using drugs.

And this.

The House today approved a stunning, extreme amendment to the farm bill from Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) that would allow states to require most adults who receive or apply for SNAP — including parents with children as young as 1 year old and many people with disabilities — to work or participate in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week or else have their entire family’s SNAP benefits cut off.

The amendment provides no jobs and no funds for work or training programs, and it does not require states to make any work opportunities available. People who want to work and are looking for a job but haven’t found one could be cut off.

And the amendment gives states a powerful financial incentive to do this. It allows them to keep half of the savings from cutting these people off and to use the money for whatever they want — tax cuts, special-interest subsidies, or anything else.

And that’s just the tip of the shitberg, to quote John Oliver. The bill was so awful it couldn’t even be passed with a Republican majority.

The bill was defeated today by a margin of 195 to 234, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the bill will become significantly better before it comes up for another vote.

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  • Draxiar

    Apparently some of the Republicans that voted it down did so because they felt the bill didn’t cut enough.

    “Those cuts weren’t deep enough for many Republicans who objected to the cost of the nearly $80 billion-a-year program”

  • Steven Skelton

    I don’t care if people use drugs, but I don’t want to pay for them. I’m happy to pay for groceries, but not if you spent your grocery money on weed.

    I favor drug testing all who receive unearned cash payments from the government.

    • Nefercat

      I don’t want to pay for people’s drugs either, but why the assumption that because someone has fallen on hard times economically, they are probably a drug user?

      That is wrong. That presumes that those people are criminals and that is wrong. If there is a history or record of drug usage, then a case could be made for drug testing. Otherwise, there is no good reason to take a person who has never been anything except an upright citizen and tell them that they wouldn’t have fallen on hard times if they weren’t a drug using criminal, so they need to be tested.

      I object to people using all kinds of accounting trickery to get out of paying their fair share of taxes, so that they can spend the savings on hookers and blow. Let’s drug test those people, too.

      “…all who receive unearned cash payments from the government”

      And that describes every republican in the House of Representatives who has refused to govern and instead wastes the people’s money on proposing and voting on bills that will never pass (often repeatedly) just to troll for votes back home. (And they have admitted this! “Aw, the freshmen want a chance to tell the folks back home that they voted against Obamacare, so we’re going waste money on their little whim-whams.”) Let’s drug test them.

      • Steven Skelton

        I don’t think it assumes that someone is a drug user any more than passing a driving test presumes someone is a bad driver.

        If you want the food stamps, then go take the test.

        Furthermore, it doesn’t have anything to do with blame or explanation of why the person has fallen on hard times. It is just, quite simply, the people’s way of insuring that we aren’t subsidizing somebody’s drug habit.

        • JMAshby

          Well then, we should probably start drug testing members of congress and corporate-welfare CEOs. Maybe beltway pundits, too.

          • Steven Skelton

            The members are congress are given a salary for the job they perform. Beltway pundits are paid by the institutions they work for for the work they do. CEO’s of corporations are compensated by their companies.

            None of those examples receive free money for doing nothing.

            I don’t mind helping people to eat, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask those receiving the aid to not spend the aid on drugs.

          • IrishGrrrl

            Um, Congress is paid with our tax dollars. Many profitable corporations receive government subsidies from our tax dollars. I say they need to get to pissing.

          • i_a_c

            Most people on food stamps are also employed. How is it that they need to be drug tested, but not anybody else who receives gov’t assistance in the form of tax credits, etc.?

          • JMAshby

            I’m not certain you could argue that we don’t often pay members of congress to do nothing.

          • Christopher Foxx

            I don’t mind helping people to eat, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask those receiving the aid to not spend the aid on drugs.

            Know of many drug dealers who accept food stamps?

        • Christopher Foxx

          Steven Skelton: I don’t think it assumes that someone is a drug user any more than passing a driving test presumes someone is a bad driver.

          If you want the food stamps, then go take the test.

          If I want to drive, I’m happy to take a test to show I can drive.
          If I need food stamps, I’m happy to take whatever test I must past to show I need food stamps.

          In either case, I see no reason why I should have to take some completely unrelated test.

        • Erika Frensley

          Taking a driving test indicates that you understand the shared rules of the road and can drive well with others. Being forced to take a drug test (since taking drugs is a criminal crime) for public aid essentially means that you are judging that person as guilty without any proof. Last I heard folks are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Public aid isn’t free money – any more than social security is free money.

    • i_a_c

      You realize you have to pay for those millions of drug tests, only to cut off funding for a tiny percentage of them, right? The savings would be negligible.

      • D_C_Wilson

        Florida was the first to adopt the drug testing requirement and I believe that they found that the tests cost the taxpayer more than they saved in denying benefits. They also found that the percentage of people on welfare who use drugs was actually lower than the national average. It seems people who can’t afford food also have difficulty finding drugs. Go figure.

        But hey, it through a ton of money at the drug testing company owned by Rick Scott’s wife, so it was deemed a rousing success.

        • i_a_c

          Yes, that’s the example I was thinking of, but I couldn’t remember for sure if they saved any money or not, but I did remember if it was any, it wasn’t very much.

      • Steven Skelton

        It’s not all about the money. It’s about accountability and what is best for people.

        I do quite a bit of personal charity. I take care of the people in my life who need to be taken care of. This community thinks I’m just the selfish and greedy libertarian…and that’s fine, but it’s not true at all.

        The wonderful thing about personal charity is that it benefits both the giver and the receiver. There is an accountability when someone takes my assistance. They don’t just get a check from a nameless source. They get their assistance from me…a person to whom they are accountable.

        Free money from the government comes with no accountability but rather with an unearned sense of entitlement…and that doesn’t help anyone.

        • i_a_c

          If they’re accountable to you, are you going to buy your own drug tests? I seriously don’t know what this has to do with anything.

          I don’t know why you think writing a check to someone makes them any more accountable than if they receive a check from the government. They’re equally likely to spend it on drugs, that is, not very likely at all.

        • nathkatun7

          “They don’t just get a check from a nameless source.” I am sorry but this is a stupid statement. The source is the United States government. Read the obligations set forth in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution:

          “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, in oder to
          form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic
          tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote THE
          GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the blessings of liberty to
          ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this
          Constitution for the United States of America.”

          Right wingers are not the only ones who pay taxes. They also probably not the majority tax payers. I pay taxes. And I expect my government to use my taxes to PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE of all Americans in accordance with the government’s Constitutional responsibility. American citizens receiving government assistance must not be treated as second class citizens.

        • Erika Frensley

          Oh Cool – you hold accountability for the money you loan out to your selected people. And what happens if they spend the money on something you don’t like – do you take it back? Do you punish them? Yay, they have no “unearned sense of entitlement” – except for the majority which have fallen into hard times after earning a good living and paying their taxes. I’m so glad you’re so charitable – you know, the workhouses operated on a similar type of charity.

          • Steven Skelton

            I don’t loan. I give.

          • Erika Frensley

            I’m glad you give. But giving with a sense of accountability is actually a loan – you’re holding the receiver hostage with the sense of obligation – that’s what accountability does, really.

    • D_C_Wilson

      I favor drug testing all who receive unearned cash payments from the government.

      Awesome. Can I deliver the specimen cups to the CEOs of Exxon-Mobil, Texaco, and the other oil companies? Do we have enough for every farmer who receives subsidies?

      • nathkatun7

        DCW, I would add on your list of people GOP members of Congress in the current do nothing Congress.

      • Victor_the_Crab

        Oh no you di–in’t! :D

  • Steven

    Agree with Draxiar. This bill didn’t pass because it didn’t cut ENOUGH. It’s truly astounding. You know, I’ve been blessed in my life; I was born into a comfortable family and still, at 44, don’t have to worry about my next meal or keeping a roof over my head. I simply cannot understand the rationale for this hatred – I don’t know any other word for it – of the less fortunate. The constant humiliations the Republican Party tries to inflict on people who, for whatever reason, are not as prosperous or fortunate as the rest of us. I just don’t get it. I look at these folks and empathize, and I realize that there but for the grace of God go I. The Republicans look at them with disgust.

    • Victor_the_Crab

      I believe the word your looking for is evil.

  • notoriousbob

    The best part is Cantor turning around and saying it was the democrats fault it didn’t pass!! Hello Cantor, you have the majority. And just because you shit on a stick and I refuse to vote for it doesn’t make it my fault. What a dick.

  • desertflower1

    Ah, yes! The party of “small govt” wants suspicion-less searches….violating the 4th Amendment. But hey, they only read the parts of the Constitution they like. Look what happened in FL….did I mention that Scott’s wife owned the drug testing company?

    You know what we really need? We need a damn mental health exam and a civics test for anyone that wants to be in congress. Yes. I would pay for that.

    • nathkatun7

      “You know what we really need? We need a damn mental health exam and a civics test for anyone that wants to be in congress. Yes. I would pay for that.”

      Desertflower, I am with you 100%!

  • BlueTrooth

    Drug tests are just a scam by the Corporations that manufacture them. There is no moral justification for the tests, regardless of what a “taxpayer” thinks ought to happen with their .001 of a penny they might contribute to a drug purchase. If you’re outraged over drug purchases, you’ve been hoodwinked by the best of the worst, so don’t feel too bad. As for the proposed slave labor to the State, that is simply shocking. The State can make people work 20 hours a week in exchange for some credit for food stuffs on a plastic card. Of course, this is the program they’d like to “privatize” to McDonalds and Walmart. I can just hear the ads about “working my way up” now…

  • mdblanche

    Oh look, is that founding member of the crazy caucus Steve King (R-Hooterville) complaining about how unreasonable his colleagues are to vote down something as important as the farm bill? I do believe it is. You seem to take a different view of things when it’s something important to your district being voted on, don’t you Steve?