President, Strategic Communications, LLC

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Has the Ugliest Food Politics of All?

No worries, Evil Queen. The answer is obvious, the farm bill, despite the fact that each aisle of the supermarket has a symbiotic relationship with lawyers, lobbyists, pr flacks, science spokespeople, activists, demagogues and congressional allies, based on home state or congressional district interest.

The House Farm Bill
 Every five years Congress takes up this political "hot potato," which is neither high in dietary fiber or potassium. Usually a compromise is reached, agricultural members win over the support of the Black Caucus and urban members with enough food and hunger programs to garner enough votes to pass the House of Representatives, even if some of the other major policy items in the legislation make no economic sense. This year it might be different.

Compromise, the mother's milk of politics, is not in the vernacular of the Tea Party. These modern day Luddites want to topple federal programs by starving them to death, much like what the Tea Party in the House proposes to do to millions of hungry school children whose only warm meal of the day may come from federal feeding programs.

According to a July 9 press release from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, an estimated 3.8 million California adults — particularly those in households with children, as well as low-income Latinos — could not afford to put adequate food on the table during the recent recession. The House Agriculture Committee's answer - slash $16 billion in more spending from food insecurity programs and reward millionaire farmers with more federal subsidies.

Democratic reaction was swift and predictable. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) issued a scathing statement after the bill’s release that called it immoral and inhumane.“This bill increases subsidies to millionaires... This is a bill that robs the poor to pay the rich...No farmer is being cut back. They are being made whole...The people are getting screwed in this process are the people who can least afford it,” she said.

Part of this is all political posturing. The House GOP and Democratic Leaderships know the Senate will never accept these mean spirited cuts. Democratic House Leader Pelosi even hinted publicly something to the effect that "we can fix this bill in conference." Why should she, especially in an election year?

The whole polticial process stinks. Someone needs to teach the bullies in the House a lesson. It's like Sean Connery's famous line from the movie The Untouchables, "You wanna get Capone? Here's how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way. And that's how you get Capone!" And that is how the Democrats should get the Tea Party.

The House of Representatives needs to understand that a great nation is judged by how it treats its most impoverished citizens. On that basis alone the House bill should be rejected. The legislation is as dysfunctional as the process that produced it.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who has the Ugliest Food Politics of All?

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