Till The Bill: How Conservatives Wrecked The Farm Bill Over Food Stamps

With a compromise farm bill finally coming to the House floor, it is worth taking a moment to review why it took this long to get here – endless Republican obstruction.

As Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz were taking the Republican war on health care reform to new extremes, forcing the government to shut down in the process, another political standoff defined by conservative radicalism received much less attention.

Last October, the farm bill expired, leaving uncertain the future of agricultural programs and essential food assistance for the poor. The expiration came after more than a year of intraparty squabbling among Republicans over the size of proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly known as food stamps.

The House Agriculture Committee approved a five-year farm bill extension in July 2012, but congressional conservatives demanded major cuts to the food stamp program as ransom for their support. The debate carried over into the new Congress, where the Tea Party faction successfully blocked the bill from moving forward. Unable to satisfy the far right’s appetite for draconian cuts, Republican leaders eventually poisoned the process by severing the bill and passing “farm-only” legislation alongside a separate measure slashing funding for food stamps.

Read more after the jump.

GOP Union: Rep. McMorris Rodgers In Lockstep With Tea Party’s Sen. Lee

Hoping to break the trend of awkward or forgettable State of the Union responses, Republicans have selected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to counter President Obama’s annual address tonight.

As a top lieutenant to Speaker John Boehner who generally steers clear of controversy, McMorris Rodgers could seem like a logical choice to try and represent the more welcoming GOP that party leaders called for after the 2012 election. However, a brief review of her record indicates that McMorris Rodgers is no less extreme than many of her Tea Party colleagues. In fact, on several key issues, McMorris Rodgers is closely aligned with Tea Party responder Sen. Mike Lee.

Both McMorris Rodgers and Lee oppose increases in the minimum wage, support deep cuts to food stamps, and have voted against unemployment benefits. McMorris Rodgers has opposed equal pay for women and supported several attempts to restrict women’s health care choices – including notorious legislation that would have redefined rape as “forcible rape” – while Lee believes the Violence Against Women Act is unconstitutional.

Read more after the jump.

GOP Glitch: Failed War On Obamacare Stuck On Repeat

The Republican Party is historically unpopular after shutting down the government in a futile attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act. In fact, with a favorability rating of just 24 percent, Republicans are far less popular than the health care law, which a majority of Americans support or would like to make stronger. Yet the backlash against them has not convinced Republicans to give up their desperate crusade to take away people’s health care.

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing on the glitches in the Affordable Care Act’s recently launched insurance marketplaces. A memo from the committee’s Republican majority contends that the “significant and ongoing problems with the launch of the Exchanges further exacerbates the challenges facing American families.” However, a look back at President Bush’s Medicare Part D expansion shows Republicans – including members of the very same committee holding today’s hearing – defending the need to give new health care programs enough time to succeed. For example, as current chairman of the Ways and Means health subcommittee Kevin Brady (R-TX) said, “I think it needs to be understood that in a major reform, an improvement of a program like this, there are bound to be glitches.”

While the past conduct of these Republican committee members makes it abundantly clear that the hearing has nothing to do with improving people’s access to health care, the overall record of Republicans in Congress provides even more evidence that they are not genuinely concerned with the difficulties of obtaining health insurance. House Republicans have voted nearly 50 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act without offering any realistic replacement. Furthermore, Republicans have repeatedly approved radical budget proposals that would privatize Medicare and gut health care programs for children and the poor.

Read more after the jump.