The House of Reps has narrowly passed a massive agro-welfare package that excludes all nutrition programs which traditionally make up the bulk of the farm bill.
The roll call: 216 Republicans in favor of the subsidy-only bill, 12 Republicans joining 196 Democrats in opposition, and the remaining members not voting.
If the 2010-2012 campaigns, in which Republicans demanded that Barack Obama get his grubby hands off their wealthy constituents’ Medicare, did not already convince you that the Republicans are not the party of limited government, please let this vote be a lesson: the vast majority of elected Republicans are motivated by a burning desire to make life miserable for the poor and more comfortable for the wealthy.
There are a dozen — literally, just 12 — House Republicans who are in the least bit ideologically committed to small government. These 12 happen to be among the most conservative members of the House — Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) are among their number — and their commitment to small government doesn’t extend to keeping government out of women’s uteri or gay people’s bedrooms and their voting records are otherwise problematic, but at least in the economic sphere, they are consistent. They’ll vote against food stamps when the House leadership deigns to put up a separate SNAP bill, but they oppose corporate welfare too.
The remaining 216 House Republicans have eagerly enlisted in a class war in which the wealthy are kicking ass.
Farmers — even real honest-to-God actual working farmers and not the owners of hunting lodges who receive subsidy checks from Uncle Sam for the heroic deed of not planting any crops — are not some destitute class in need of special protection. On average, farm households earn slightly more than the typical U.S. household and they earn far from than their rural neighbors who are not engaged in farming.
It’s true that there are struggling farmers, but they do not represent the prime beneficiaries of farm-state welfare. The top chart shows data from 2008. It indicates that among those farmers who received a government subsidy check of $10,000-$20,000, the average household income was $110,368, 61% more than the U.S. mean household income. Farmers who received subsidy checks in excess of $30,000 had incomes more than 3X higher than the average American household. The wealthier a farm operation, the more money it receives from taxpayers.
The nicest thing that can be said about contemporary Republicans is that they’ve stopped hiding the ball. After the past 5 years, no intellectually honest person can say that Republicans hate taxes. If they hated taxes, House Republicans wouldn’t be so eager to see the payroll tax rise, Mitt Romney wouldn’t have been talking about the 47% who are too poor to pay federal income taxes, various GOP honchos wouldn’t be cackling about more Americans needing to “have skin in the game,” and GOP-controlled state legislatures wouldn’t be passing sales tax hikes while cutting income taxes. They hate taxes on the wealthy, not taxes per se. Nor do Republicans hate government spending. After all, they just passed a $195 billion piece of rich guy socialism. They’ve long lived to reward the rich and punish the poor. Now they’re just being brazen about it.
(Chart from Environmental Working Group)