The Republican war on the poor has heated up. Thursday House Republicans are poised to pass a bill crafted by Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia that will cut $40 million from the food stamp program and drop an estimate 3.8 million Americans, many of them children, from the program.
Cantor drafted a bill called he The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act which will reduce overall funding for food stamp by $40 million—ten times what the Republican House Agricultural Committee proposed. He would accomplish much of those cuts by eliminating state waivers requiring “able bodied recipients” to work in order to receive food stamps.
There are over 13 million Americans that are unemployed—many for over two years. No jobs exist for most of those Americans. Requiring them to work in order to eat when there is no work is simply mean spirited. It is made worse because many Congressmen receive millions in welfare checks from the government for not working meaning they get paid not to plant on their “farms.”
That bill is more than likely dead in the Senate, and would possibly be vetoed by the president. Cantor knows that. He is only doing this to secure Tea Party votes so he can get himself elected Speaker when Boehner either quits or is ousted.
Many feel that if the Cantor bill passed it might actually increase the deficit while hurting millions of Americans. Many states who received waivers use the money to train food stamps for jobs, and assist them in finding work. If they lose those waivers and that money, the efforts to actually put people into jobs will end. That will deprive the federal treasury form income and payroll taxes. The Congressional Budget Office warns the Cantor bill could increase the deficit.
Another casualty of the Cantor/Republican war on the poor bill is the Farm Bill. The Senate passed a farm bill and sent it to the House in the spring. House Republicans killed it. They passed their own version which stripped food stamps out of the farm bill. A conference committee needs to be appointed to work out the difference between the Senate and House versions, but House Republicans refuse to appoint conferees.
The reason is they know the Senate will fight these deep cuts in food stamps. So they want to pass their own separate food stamp bill in hopes the Senate will then pass the farm bill without food stamps. That is unlikely. So this means that there may be no farm bill this year, and food stamps will be in limbo as well.
Rural Republicans appeared torn on the new bill, which has 10 times the level of cuts to the food stamp program as the Senate-passed farm bill. The difference could make it impossible to complete a planned House-Senate farm bill conference.
"You’re talking about $40 billion in cuts vs. $4 billion, which is a huge gap," said Rep. Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida. "We need that farm bill and cannot do an extension of the Pelosi farm bill. If that happens we are really going to get screamed at the town halls."
House Democrats are blasting the bill as well. Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture panel blasted it saying it would kill the farm bill.
“Even if this bill is defeated, as it should be, I worry the debate will eliminate any remaining goodwill needed to pass a farm bill. The majority is again catering to the extremes of their party, pushing messaging bills to nowhere. It’s time to get serious. If they will just get out of our way, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees can work together and provide farmers, ranchers and consumers the certainty of a five-year farm bill.”
This mean spirited move by Cantor comes just two weeks before the deadline for passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government next year. If Congress fails to reach consensus and pass a Resolution by Sept 30th, the government will shut down. Many Republicans are trying to insert language in the CR to de-fund Obamacare. That is dead on arrival in the Senate.
Now they are adding another land mine to the bill. It appears Republicans are hell bent on forcing a government shut down.