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Friday, July 12, 2013

Gail Collins, "The House Just Wants to Snack": What Isn't Gail Telling You?

What are those nefarious Republicans plotting now? Not to worry, New York Times columnist Gail Collins is always there to tell you.

In her latest op-ed entitled "The House Just Wants to Snack" (, Collins would have us know that the Republicans are seeking to delay providing food stamps to hungry Americans, while passing on subsidies to farmers. Collins writes:

"Lately, the House has begun chopping up big, complicated bills into what Speaker John Boehner once described as 'bite-sized chunks that members can digest.' No more legislative sausage-making. No more bipartisan trading. The House was going to stick to clean, simple ideas, more along the lines of Liver Snaps.

So the farm bill got divided. The two parts were not equally tidy. As Ron Nixon reported in The Times, the rate of error and fraud in the agricultural crop insurance program is significantly higher than in the food stamp program. Also, the agriculture part has a lot of eyebrow-raising provisions, like the $147 million a year in reparations we send to Brazil to make up for the fact that it won a World Trade Organization complaint about the market-distorting effects of our cotton subsidies.

And while food stamps go to poor people, most of the farm aid goes to wealthy corporations.

So House Republicans passed the farm part and left food stamps hanging."

Most of the farm aid goes to wealthy corporations? Surprise, surprise, surprise. Worthy of scrutiny? Absolutely.

But what isn't Collins telling us? As reported by Aimee Picchi in an MSN Money article entitled "More Americans than ever using food stamps" (

"A lot has changed about food stamps during the past few years. For one, the program is currently called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and it has made buying groceries much easier by providing debit-style cards.

. . . .

Enrollment in SNAP has surged 70% since 2008, reaching a record 47.8 million Americans in December. Even more shocking, that means 15% of the country receives the benefits, nearly double the rate as in 1975, when the U.S. suffered from soaring inflation, a recession and an oil crisis.

As a result, the U.S. spent a record $74.6 billion on food-stamp benefits last year, more than double what the program shelled out before the Great Recession. Remember, that downturn officially ended in 2009, and by many measures the economy has improved since the financial crisis and housing meltdown."

Hmm, a record $74.6 billion on food stamp benefits. Worth examining? Absolutely. But that would also reflect on Obama's failure to remedy America's economic malaise, and we wouldn't want to do that.

What else isn't a "pleasantly plump" Collins telling us? As reported by Reuters in an article entitled "Fat and getting fatter: U.S. obesity rates to soar by 2030" (

"Using a model of population and other trends, a new report released on Tuesday by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation projects that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030 unless Americans change their ways."

Is it also worth scrutinizing the obesity epidemic in the US, which is responsible for numerous diseases, e.g., type 2 diabetes, which in turn cause medical costs to rise? Yes indeedy.

In short, before blaming only those nasty Republican troglodytes, Collins would do well to have a look at the bigger picture. As Mark Leibovich's new book, "This Town," would have us know, almost everyone in Washington is at the trough.

1 comment:

  1. It never made sense that the School Lunch Program and Food Stamps fall under the Dep't. of Agriculture, so why not separate the crop subsidies program?
    Maybe then we will know why the USA subsidizes cotton so that we can export it to China so they can make sheets and towels for re-export back to the USA? (my pet peeve, although the sugar growers are worse)

    American exceptionalism unmasked. Our future is the film "Wall-E". versus 'Just say no to high fructose corn syrup'.

    If only any US media would focus on issues instead of the murder trial of the moment.