Friday, May 31, 2013

Biggest GOP food stamp foe gets huge farm subsidies

Biggest GOP food stamp foe gets huge farm subsidies
by Joan McCarter
Daily Kos staff
May 23, 2013

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN)
Welfare recipient Stephen Fincher.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) has been making a big splash with his supposedly Jesus-inspired opposition to the government helping to keep poor people alive by giving them food stamps. As could be totally expected, Fincher's Bible-quoting is highly selective and hugely misinterpreted, because that's what wingnuts quoting the Bible do.

Fincher should include in his Bible study the plethora of verses that address hypocrisy. Because, when it comes to where the funding in the Farm Bill is allocated, he's among the biggest.

Using Agriculture Department data, researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican and a farmer from Frog Jump, Tenn., collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. The data is part of the research group’s online farm subsidy database from which the group issues a report each year.

In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops. It is unclear how much Mr. Fincher received in crop insurance subsidies because the names of people receiving the subsidies are not public. The group said most of the agriculture subsidies go to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country. These farmers have received $265 billion in direct payments and farm insurance subsidies since 1995, federal records show.

Fincher voted for $20 billion in cuts to the supplemental nutrition program over the next 10 years. He also voted to increase the farm subsidies he's on the receiving end of. It's likely that the bulk of Rep. Fincher's income is provided entirely by taxpayers, from these farm subsidies to his congressional salary. Flincher also, of course, is an enthusiastic supporter of Paul Ryan's budget that decimates social spending, presumably because he cares so much about the deficit. As long as the deficit cutting is happening to someone else.

He's also not much a true-believer when it comes to the sacred free market.

Fincher has said his farm would have shut down without the subsidies, which he argued protect American farmers from more heavily subsidized foreign competition. "We would be all for not having government in our business," Fincher told the Washington Post in 2010, "but we need a fair system."

He needs a fair system, but everybody else is on their own. Spoken like a true Republican.

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