Some Congressional Food Stamp Critics Have Their Own Safety Net
“Since 2008, the cost of SNAP has more than doubled from $34 billion to $74 billion,” complained Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) in a press release defending his vote for a $40 billion cut over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly referred to as the food stamp program. The cuts come at a time when one in seven Americans is utilizing food stamps, as unemployment remains high. As NPR reports, “the vast majority of SNAP recipients either work or are children, disabled or elderly.”
But Cramer was not fazed by these statistics, instead asking on the House floor, “When did America trade the dignity of a job for a culture of permanent dependency?”
Given his remarks in favor of Americans pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, one would think that Cramer is a pure fiscal hawk, determined to rein in government spending and make citizens take care of themselves. But the reality is that this congressman has been happy to spend enormous amounts of money on his own district in order to secure his own political future.
From 1995 until 2012, his at-large North Dakota district received $10.4 billion in agricultural subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That makes his district the single largest recipient of farm subsidies in the nation. Keep in mind that the purpose of these subsidies to make the sale of crops competitive. Without them, the recipients would lose their jobs - in other words, the subsidies, 80 percent of which go to big corporate farmers, create exactly the culture of permanent dependency that Cramer complains about. The congressman’s fourth-largest sector of campaign contributions is the crop production and basic processing industry, which has given him $133,040 to run for office.
Cramer is not alone in this hypocrisy. Many other House Republicans who have harshly condemned SNAP recipients and the benefits they receive are huge takers of agricultural subsidies. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is in a district that has been the third-largest recipient of subsidies, getting more than $9 billion since 1995. In voting for SNAP cuts this week, he ironically claimed that his “Democratic colleagues have long been for expanding the dependency class here in America.”