#PAGov: Allyson Schwartz’s Food Stamp Vote is a BFD

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Just to clarify the Allyson Schwartz food stamp cuts controversy, our argument is that the Congresswoman’s job was done once she got her fresh food financing provision into the bill.

The vote for the final bill means she thinks that her provision and some others were more important than the downsides of the bill.

It looks like the compromise conference bill is going to cut $8.7B from SNAP. The House bill cuts $39B, and the Senate cuts $4B.

The total savings are projected to be between $16B and $23B, so that means HALF of the bill’s savings are coming from the poorest Americans.

On the farm side, this is just a huge giveaway to insurance companies. The federal government picks up 62% of the premiums, and the USDA guarantees them a 14% rate of return.

This is nothing like regular insurance as you know it. It’s guaranteed income. If there’s bad weather, the insurance companies get money. If there’s good weather, the insurance companies get money.

The traditional logic of doing SNAP and farm subsidies in one big “Farm Bill” is a political grand bargain between urban lawmakers and rural lawmakers. Tie an urban and rural interest (food stamps) to a rural interest (farm subsidies) and you’ve got a political coalition capable of log-rolling a bill whose individual elements would be harder to pass individually.

The House farm bill breaks the terms of the grand bargain with the huge cuts to food stamps. There’s no reason for Democrats in big metros to back it, and that’s why none of the other PA Democrats did.

So you’re Allyson Schwartz and you’re weighing the positives and negatives of this bill. Indefensible farm subsidies are in there as usual, but now there are massive food stamp cuts too. It’s a stinker all around. But the Republicans also let you fund a small program that you worked hard to pass.

This is an easy choice! You get the program in the bill, you tell them you’ll vote for it, and then you don’t vote for it at the last minute. It’s a bad bill overall, and you’re running for Governor in a competitive Democratic primary.

Even if you give Congresswoman Schwartz the benefit of the doubt – either she doesn’t want to pull out because she doesn’t want to burn relationships for the next year, or she doesn’t want to pull out because she thinks the good outweighs the bad – both possible rationalizations are just wrong.

There are good things in the bill, to be sure, like the fresh food financing program. But I don’t see how any Democrat, especially one with urban constituents, can sleep at night voting for a massive giveaway to insurance companies where literally half of the savings are on the backs of people who can’t afford food.

This entry was posted in Economy, Governor, Health.