Getting little or no help from House GOP leaders, Lucas has abandoned his hope "to build on the decades-old farmer-food stamp coalition, which has helped sustain support for rural agriculture in the more urban House," Rogers reports. "Instead, the path chosen by the GOP is a political dead-end in the Senate and could become a nightmare for farm and crop-insurance interests trying to fend off tighter income limits on subsidies." The bill would eliminate direct cash payments to farmers but create a larger program for crop insurance.
Food stamps are the largest single part of the bill. The right wing wants to repeal "categorical eligibility," which appears to have allowed states to enroll more people in the program, ballooning its costs. Rogers calls it "an administrative shortcut that’s become far more common since the economic downturn in 2008," putting more people in need of food stamps. The impending House approach "could drive at least 1.8 million people off the rolls and has twice been rejected by the Senate." Lucas and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the committee's ranking Democrat, want to raise food-stamp eligibility to 140 percent of the poverty threshold to compensate for repeal of categorical eligibility.
Rogers sums up: "Seldom have the haves and have-nots had so much common stake in one bill. Consider that for a family of three, the distinction between 130 percent of poverty and 140 percent . . . comes down to those earning $24,817 vs. $26,726 a year — about $37 more a week. That’s less than the annual direct cash subsidies for two acres of corn today. And this in the context of a debate where it was considered a major breakthrough for the Senate to trim the rate of crop insurance subsides for producers with adjusted gross incomes in excess of $750,000." (Read more)