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Old 08-30-2012, 01:41 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default Farm Bill and Food Stamps Keep Growing in Cost

“Farm Bill” Question and Answer

As Congress continues its recess and activists across the country attempt to educate their elected officials on the problems with the current farm and food stamp bill, we wanted to provide the main questions that our folks are receiving on the road and their best factual response, all in one post. Here you go, and we hope you find its useful.

How much does the so-called “farm bill”—the Federal Agriculture and Risk Management Act (H.R. 6083)—cost?

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill costs $957 billion over ten years. The last farm bill, enacted in 2008, cost $604 billion over ten years. This bill amounts to a 60% increase in farm and food aid since the last reauthorization.

Doesn’t H.R. 6083 “save” money?
Not in any real world sense. As stated, the bill includes policies that over ten years will cost 63% more than the previous authorization. It is only because the Congressional Budget Office must ignore the expiration date of these programs and assume their continuation into eternity—including the Obama food stamp expansions—that the bill can be judged to “save” $35 billion. This is really just Washington-speak for spending 3.5% less than expected ($957 billion instead of $992 billion)—it’s not a cut.

Isn’t H.R. 6083 really mislabeled as a farm bill given how much food stamp spending it includes?

Yes. 80% of H.R. 6083’s spending is comprised of food stamp spending. This is because there are now 46 million individuals on food stamps, compared with 30 million in 2008 and 17 million in 2000. The reduction in the rate of growth to the food stamp program contemplated by the bill equals just $16 billion or 2%—not the sort of reforms that will lead to rolling back the food stamp program. This is one reason why most conservatives are so intent on splitting up the bill between its food stamp and farm subsidy components.
Doesn’t H.R. 6083 include some much needed reforms to farm subsidies?
The bill does eliminate wasteful direct payments to farmers, but it then plows much of the “savings” back into three new “shallow loss” entitlement programs that will actually serve to guarantee the profits for a larger number of farmers than currently benefit from direct payments. In addition, the bill sets new price floors for commodities (in most cases, higher than average recent prices) and expands crop insurance subsidies.

Isn’t passing H.R. 6083 crucial towards passing drought assistance for those regions of the country that have been hard hit?

No. The House of Representatives has already passed a separate piece of legislation—the Agriculture Disaster Assistance Act, H.R. 6233—to provide $383 million in emergency assistance to farmers, ranchers, and orchardists. The Senate refuses to act on the measure in order to put artificial political pressure to pass a massive farm bill. We opposed this drought assistance (see below), but regardless of a Congressman’s support for such assistance, it should have no bearing on whether they support a separate, long-term farm bill. Note: Some congressional offices, in an effort to confuse the issues, have noted that there is no food stamp spending in this separate drought package. That is true, but it confirms that the future of the drought package is not tied to passage of a multi-year farm bill.

Should the federal government be providing $323 million in drought assistance?

No. Proponents of the bill cite the drought’s impact on livestock—and the absence of livestock-specific disaster programs—as the principle reason for the aid package. However, the livestock-specific disaster programs expired in 2011, meaning ranchers knew that they had to plan for possible disasters, including drought. The Washington Post explained that “farmers should have to hedge as other businesses do: by diversifying their product lines, purchasing insurance at market rates, leveraging assets or maintaining cash reserves.” Because livestock producers did not take preventative action, they are now clamoring for a bailout. The bill also goes well beyond drought-inflicted livestock losses, by offering “subsidies to ranchers for livestock killed by raptors and wolves (along with hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, and extreme cold).” It also includes wildfires. The “drought” bill also covers trees, defined as “a tree, bush, and vine”, impacted by late-season freezes and insect infestations.

Doesn’t the agricultural community need a farm bill during this recession?
No. U.S. agriculture is thriving. Net farm income hit a record $98 billion last year and is expected to reach $122.2 billion in 2012. The top five earnings years in the last three decades have all occurred since 2004. With a healthy agriculture sector and a spiraling federal debt, now is the time to reform and eliminate commodity subsidies that cost taxpayers and distort the market.

This is from the Heritage Foundation
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:18 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Total federal and state "welfare" spending topped $1 trillion last year, marking a nearly 30 percent increase since the start of the Obama administration -- according to a new congressional report which documented spending across more than 80 benefit programs for low-income families.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, released the figures Thursday, compiled based on a committee analysis and a new Congressional Research Service study. The stats show that the combination of federal and state "welfare" spending is more than the country spends on Medicare, Social Security or non-war defense.

Sessions, who has been on a campaign of late against what he sees as aggressive and unchecked spending on food stamps and other programs, called the figures "astounding."

"No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty," he said in a statement. "Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible, and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence."

The study factored in Medicaid, the federal health care aid program for low-income families. But it also covered 82 other federal programs that Sessions classified as "welfare" -- from food stamps to public housing to various tax credits for low-income families.

The CRS study found the federal portion of all that spending rose from $563 billion in fiscal 2008 to $746 billion in fiscal 2011 -- representing a 32 percent increase. Republicans on the budget committee calculated that, with total state spending on federal programs factored in, the total amount rose from nearly $800 billion in 2008 to over $1 trillion last year -- a 29 percent increase.

According to Sessions' office, the federal share is now roughly one-fifth of the budget.

The number of people enrolling in these benefits program has risen in part due to the recession and its aftermath. Record numbers of people, for example, have gone on food stamps as unemployment continues to hover near the 8 percent mark.

Sessions office acknowledges that "persistently weak GDP growth" is "unquestionably a factor" in the rising budget for benefits programs.

However, Sessions office claims federal policy has "explicitly encouraged growth in welfare enrollment -- combined with a weakening of welfare standards and rules."

Republicans have, for example, accused the Obama administration of trying to loosen welfare requirements, though the administration claims it is just trying to give states the kind of flexibility they have sought.

Sessions has also claimed that food stamp administrators have proactively tried to enroll people even when they might not necessarily need the assistance.Here in California there is an ad on TV just about every hour on at least on of the channels advertising to get on foodstamps. They call it "Champion for Change" instead of foodstamps as to not give the stigma or make those watching aware that it's an ad for foodstamps.
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Last edited by Jeanfromfillmore; 10-18-2012 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 01:05 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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The Trillion-Dollar Cost of Welfare

You may have seen the headlines on the Internet, that Republicans hate the poor. A few examples from a quick search reveal these:
Why do Republicans hate poor, hungry people?

Inside The Sickness That Makes Republicans Hate Poor Children
Why do Republicans and born-again Christians hate the poor?

Political Ruminations: Republicans Hate Poor People
But are these attacks accurate, or are they missing a broader story?

Have you seen the latest data out today about how much federal and state governments spend on welfare?

The dollar amounts are truly stunning and show how off-base this criticism really is.

Of course Americans want to help the poor. But missing in this reporting is exactly how U.S. taxpayers do just that.

The Senate Budget Committee is out with a new report today that shows there are 83 overlapping government welfare programs that together represent $1.03 trillion in fiscal 2011 spending by federal and state governments, based on data from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The report says “total means-tested welfare spending is currently the single-largest category of spending in the federal budget.”

That means that welfare costs in this country have reached a point where they account for more than the sums the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense the amounts spent on welfare equal the budget for defense and Medicare combined.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, requested the report from the CRS, and GOP budget committee staffers crunched the numbers. Specifically, the CRS found that the federal government spends $745.84 billion on 83 programs that it identified as welfare programs.

And "based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance, budget committee staff calculated at least an additional $283 billion in state contributions to those same federal programs, for a total annual expenditure of $1.03 trillion," a report from the GOP members of the Senate Budget Committee says.

The $1.03 trillion figure doesn't include entitlement programs to which people contribute like Social Security and Medicare, nor does it include government veteran programs.

“No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends, but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty,” says Sen. Sessions in a statement. “Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible, and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.”
The staff report notes that “the federal share of spending on these federal programs is up 32% since 2008, and now comprises 21% of federal outlays.” That compares to 4% under the Administration of John F. Kennedy.
The reports adds that “spending on the 10 largest of the 83 programs..has doubled as a share of the federal budget over just the last 30 years. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the amount expended on these 10 programs has increased by 378% over that time."

The new data come as debate in Washington, D.C. intensifies over health reform, which is expected to increase the number of people on Medicaid by an estimated 15 million, half of the estimated uninsured in the country.
Moreover, the Senate staffers found this growth is by design. “Existing federal policy has explicitly encouraged growth in welfare enrollment — combined with a weakening of welfare standards and rules,” says the report.
Take food stamps. This program has quadrupled in the last decade. But, rather than trying to curb spending here, the government advertises to get more people on the books, the Senator and his staffers note.
The report says: “Government spending on food stamps — the second-largest federal welfare program — has quadrupled since 2001, yet the USDA [U.S. Dept. of Agriculture] has a variety of programs and advertisements whose explicit and unmistakable goal is to expand enrollment to new record highs.”The report notes that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a letter , has been trading correspondence with Sen. Sessions about this spending.

For a link to background analysis from Sen. Sessions’ budget committee office on the CRS review of the 83 programs, as well as a look at how spending has increased over time, click here . And you can find CRS’s report here .
The Senator’s office has also compiled examples of government efforts to expand welfare enrollment, and noted in its press release:

“A Spanish-language ad in which an individual is pressured into accepting food stamps even though she says her family is financially self-sufficient.”
“An assertion that communities are 'losing out' when individuals choose not to participate in the food stamp program.”

“Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled.”

“2011 Hunger Champions award for 'counteracting mountain pride.'”

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Last edited by Jeanfromfillmore; 10-18-2012 at 01:11 PM.
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