GOP: millions in subsidies to dead farmers, but cut food stamps to 5 million Americans

Posted  by AzBlueMeanie:

The moral depravity of the House GOP "farm bill" continues to be exposed. The New York Times today has a pair of shocking headlines. The first, Millions in U.S. Subsidies Go to Dead Farmers:

The federal government pays millions of dollars in farm subsidies each
year to farmers who have died, because the Agriculture Department lacks
the proper controls to make sure the money it sends is going to the
right people, a government audit has found.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress,
said the problem involved several agencies within the department.

* * *

Controls over crop insurance, in particular, have been questioned after
government investigators found a huge fraud ring last year in North
Carolina that for decades siphoned over $100 million from the program.
The fraud ring involved insurance agents, adjusters, farmers and dozens
of others.

* * *

The findings were released as the House and the Senate prepared to meet
to work out their differences on a farm bill that would greatly expand
some subsidies, like crop insurance. The report raises questions about
the ability of the Agriculture Department to monitor the programs for
waste, fraud and abuse.

And then there is this, House
Plan on Food Stamps Would Cut 5 Million From Program
:

Nearly half a million people who receive food stamps but still do not
get enough to eat would lose their eligibility for the program under
proposed cuts that are expected to be taken up again by Congress. An
additional 160,000 to 305,000 recipients who do get enough to eat would
also lose their eligibility and the ability to adequately feed
themselves.

In total, about 5.1 million people would be eliminated from the program, according to a new report.

The Health Impact Project, a Washington research group, released a study
on Tuesday about the impact of the proposed cuts to the food stamp
program. The project is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report said the cuts to the program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would not only affect the ability of low-income households to feed themselves but would also increase poverty.

The combination of poverty and a lack of food would lead to increases in
illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure among
adults, the study found. In children, the cuts would lead to higher
rates of asthma and depression. Diabetes alone could increase federal
and state health care costs by nearly $15 billion over the next 10
years, the report found.

“The SNAP program has implications for health, and we wanted to make
sure that health is part of the debate,” said Dr. Aaron Wernham, the
director of the project. “There is a large body of public health
research which shows how food insecurity affects health.”

The report comes as Congress is working to pass a new farm bill. A
Senate bill passed in May would cut about $4.5 billion from the food
stamp program, mainly by changing the eligibility requirements. A House
farm bill with $20.5 billion in cuts to food stamps failed to pass in
June.

The House then approved a farm bill this month that for the first time
since 1973 did not include the food stamp program. Lawmakers said they
would take up a separate bill on food stamps, but they did not give a
timetable. The $20.5 billion in cuts is expected to be the starting
point for a new measure, and the Health Impact Project used that amount
as the basis for its study.

* * *

The Agriculture Department says that fraud
rates [in SNAP] are low and that the people who receive the benefits need them
because of a tough economy.

“These are the poorest of the poor,” said Kevin Concannon, under
secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the Agriculture
Department. “In many cases, these are people who are working who just
can’t make ends meet.”

Dr. Wernham said “It’s a trade-off between paying for rent, medicine or food.” “Policy makers need to understand what the health impacts are going to
be if they make the kinds of changes they are considering to the SNAP
program.”

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