Seventh District Pulse - Farm Bill and Food Stamps
I often hear from folks as I travel around the 7th District that they want Congress to "get something done." One way that Congress "gets things done" is by putting unrelated items into the same piece of legislation to "grow support" for a bill. The Farm Bill is a striking example of this type of legislating. Since 1973, the food stamp program - formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - has been reauthorized as part of the Farm Bill. Why did this happen? The answer is Congressmen from rural areas didn't have enough votes to support the crop insurance and agriculture subsidy programs that they wanted, and Congressmen from urban districts didn't have enough votes for the food stamp programs that they wanted, so they combined rural and urban needs into a single bill so that they would have enough votes to "get something done."
If these programs - food stamps and agriculture subsidies - were presented in separate bills, the debate would likely be very different and achieveing 51% of the votes would be much more difficult.
What do you think about this practice of putting unrelated items together in one bill as the Farm Bill does with food stamps and agriculture subsidies, in order to garner enough support to "get something done?"
13.2% This type of compromise isn't ideal, but I am more interested in passing legislation that will help American families than in the details of how the legislation is written. If this is how you have to do it so that families can eat and hard-working farmers can keep their family farms, then the ends absolutely justify the means. Getting things done is better than partisan gridlock.
74.8% This is the wrong way to make laws. If a Federal program can't withstand scrutiny on its own, then that's a sign that we're dealing with a defective program in need of major reform or abolition. Getting something done should not be the ultimate goal; getting something done right should be. If we don't look at food stamps and agriculture subsidies independently, we'll never be able to fix the problems in either program.
6.9% I can understand why this kind of "compromise" might be necessary for the Farm Bill, but I don't think that there are any other programs that should require it. While there may be an occasional exception, as a general rule, Congress should make legislation as short, simple, and specific as it can, so I wouldn't want Congress to make these compromises in other areas.
1.2% I don't know how I feel about this issue.
3.9% None of the above represent my views.