Remember the Most Awful Farm Bill Ever we discussed yesterday? It’s possible House leadership may fall short of the votes they need to pass it. Again.
According to a report from TPM, just a handful of congressmen could decide the fate of the bill.
Multiple Republican aides confirmed to TPM that their members would vote against the new bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would remove up to 3.8 million people from food stamp rolls. [...]
Those defections alone are not enough yet to sink the bill, but other reports have also suggested the whip counts are uncertain. Republican leadership was taking a whip count last week, according to aides, but the whip office declined to share any sense of the results with TPM.
The prospect that the bill may fail to pass is encouraging, but the reasons why are either hilarious or depressing, depending on your perspective.
Every Democrat in the House has signed a letter declaring their intention to vote against the bill, which leaves very little room for error for House leadership.
Why? Because while some Republicans will vote against the bill because it goes too far, others will vote against it because it doesn’t cut enough.
As we discussed yesterday, this bill is an abomination. In addition to cutting $40 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years, it also actively encourages states to kick people off the rolls. But this isn’t good enough for a handful of Dickensian Scrooges in the House.
57 Republicans voted against the bill when it only cut $31 billion from the program, while the new version of the bill cuts an additional $9 billion, bringing the total to $40 billion over 10 years.
We’ll find out tomorrow whether or not this bill can pass the House on a party-line vote, but that won’t be the end of the story because it still has to pass through a conference committee. A process that may be impossible since House Republicans decided to split farm subsidies and food stamps into two separate bills.
The House passed a bill to provide farm subsidies long ago, but whether or not we should feed people remains in contention.
Again, House Republicans aren’t strictly opposed to welfare, their only concern is who that welfare is provided to. Corporate welfare and generous crop insurance easily passes, while the question of whether or not we should allow people to go hungry is up for debate.
I make it sound as awful as I can because it is. And it’s not just heartless, it’s also foolish. Food stamps are economically stimulative, generating nearly $2 dollars of economic activity for every $1 spent on the program.
Economists consider SNAP one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus. Moody’s Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, every dollar increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity. Similarly, CBO rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.
Republicans want to punish poor people for being poor so badly they can taste it. Damn the consequences to America, let’s punch downward.