Before their recess for the July 4th holiday, the U.S. House rejected what has, for decades, been largely a no-brainer for the United States Congress: the federal farm subsidies bill.
This year, however, with a Congress as dysfunctional as it has ever been, even that legislative "gimme" has been stymied, for now, by the far Right Republican caucus hoping to slash even more of the food stamp benefits included the bill, and by progressive Democrats furious about cuts to the federal food assistance program that the GOP-controlled House already managed to write into it.
Before the break, the bill was defeated by a 195 to 234 vote margin in what served as a humiliating embarrassment for House Speaker John Boehner. But the $939 billion bill --- which includes both subsidies to farmers (mostly to "Big Ag") and federal food stamp program appropriations --- will soon be coming back, whether Boehner likes it or not.
And, before its return, the hypocrisy embedded in the "Tea Party" caucus' opposition to the bill needs to be highlighted. That hypocrisy is almost certainly best exemplified by one Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN).
Even the ordinarily staid New York Times was taken aback by the level of Fincher's hypocrisy that emerged when he quoted the Bible as justification for slashing food stamp benefits for the poor. He claims that assistance, somehow, amount to theft.
But the facts of Fincher's argument are even more embarrassing than that. The Times notes that Fincher himself has "collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012" in federal support for his 3,000 acre family farm.
"In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops."
Even more remarkably, his argument in favor of cutting $20 billion in food stamps came during a debate over the bill in a U.S. House sub-committee which voted to increase subsidies to farmers by $9 billion in the wake of last year's record drought. That, of course, was before the reality of his own reliance on federal funding for his family farm was brought to light by the media...