Reward the Rich, Gut the Poor
July 16th, 2013
Paul Krugman writes concisely and pointedly on what the Republican Farm Bill, stripped of food stamps, fully represents:
For decades, farm bills have had two major pieces. One piece offers subsidies to farmers; the other offers nutritional aid to Americans in distress, mainly in the form of food stamps (these days officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net. So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies — at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed — while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill. To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: “You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people’s money” — frequently, at this point, they add the words “at the point of a gun” — “and force them to give it to the poor.” It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people’s money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.In the previous post, I pointed out something very similar. In the 2012 election, Republicans proposed tax cuts that would have heavily favored the wealthy, including capital gains tax cuts, a 20% income tax cut (new top rate: 28%), and a 30% corporate tax cut, on top of a slew of new loopholes for corporations, eliminating the estate tax and slashing the gift tax. Romney tried to sell it as a “fair, flat” proposal that would cut things evenly for everybody—except that in reality, the top 0.1% would have gotten a 13% cut (just in personal taxes, not counting corporate savings) while the lower-middle class and the poor would have received less than a 1% decrease in their tax burden. In the same year, Republicans also tried to raise taxes—something they had purportedly pledged never to do—on more than 20 million lower- and middle-class families. They tried to kill a tax credit for 11 million families paying for college for their kids; they tried to end child tax credits for as many as 12 million families; and they tried to end the Earned Income Tax Credits for as many as 6 million families. They have consistently tried to slash unemployment insurance payments, and now are trying to eliminate food stamps for millions of families below the poverty line—while at the same time fighting for the most generous possible handouts to wealthy people and corporations. Tell me, exactly what do Republicans have to do to get most Americans enraged at this kind of crap? Do they have to ritually slaughter a poor family and feed their flesh to billionaires on live TV or something?