Category Archives: National Debt

Obama signs massive SNAP farm bill

President Obama signed the misnamed “farm bill” into law in an 11-pen signing ceremony at Michigan State University on Friday. The gigantic spending bill authorizes $956 billion in new spending over the next 10 years. $756 billion – 79 percent of the total – is for food stamps.

Apparently, the Administration believes there will be long-term economic hardship. The “farm bill” is about $100 billion dollars more expensive than 2009’s better known “stimulus” package.

Ironically, the signing ceremony comes on the exact same day as the federal government reached the debt ceiling limit. Though you should have, you won’t read or hear any mention of the debt ceiling in connection with the massive farm bill.

On Friday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew began “extraordinary measures” to keep the government from defaulting its ginormous $17.3 trillion dollar national debt. According to Lew, the limit will have to be raised by month’s end to avoid economic catastrophe.

It’s starting to look like the United States federal government is returned back to unrestricted, business-as-usual spending.

If that’s the case it’s likely the debt ceiling limit will be raised without a whimper.

Food Stamps (SNAP)

Food stamp program (SNAP) to remain doubled for next 10 years (Source: Sen. Jeff Sessions)

The “farm bill” should be called the food stamp bill since 79 percent of it goes into SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The graph shows that the food stamp program more that doubled in size during the Great Recession. It will remain funded at twice its pre-recession level for the next 10 years!

You wouldn’t know it, though, based on President Obama’s remarks during the signing ceremony. The President said the new law will:

  • Create jobs
  • Foster innovation
  • Build infrastructure
  • Fund research
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Lift rural communities
  • Provide crop insurance
  • Develop “cutting-edge biofuels” to reduce foreign oil dependence
  • Invest in farmer’s markets and organic agriculture
  • Reform farm subsidies

The President called it the “Swiss Army knife” of spending bills. Funded by the farm bill, Obama announced that he is launching a “Made in Rural America” initiative to help more rural businesses export their products.

The second thing this farm bill does — that is huge — is help make sure America’s children don’t go hungry.  (Applause.)
– President Barack Obama, Remarks at signing of Farm Bill, 2/7/2014

Near the end of the speech the President managed to slipped in, almost as an afterthought, that it also includes funding for SNAP.

He said SNAP is for children, the elderly, Americans with disabilities and folks going through “tough times”. $756 billion dollars is a lot of money!!!

The President concluded by saying, “that’s the way you should expect Washington to work”.

Conclusions

$756 billion in SNAP spending over the next 10 years acknowledges the Administration believes that long-term joblessness and economic hardship is the new normal.

The farm bill is the second recent big spending bill to pass Congress. The first is the bipartisan budget bill signed into law last month.

It appears, for all intents and purposes, that the federal government has returned back to its old, unrestrained spending ways. Even with numerous tax increases the national debt grew $919 billion dollars in calendar year 2013. Interest paid to service the national debt was $416 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Passage of the bipartisan budget and the massive farm bill signals that Congress has decided, once again, to kick the debt can down the road to leave tough spending decisions for a future generation of lawmakers.

Lip service will be given to fiscal responsibility, but in the end the debt ceiling will quietly be raised without fanfare in this election year.

Things won’t change until servicing the national debt itself becomes the federal government’s largest yearly expenditure.

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