An eager reader waves at me Alan Guebert's column on surprises in the Farm Bill and asks what I think. I think I'd like to hear an explanation from Rep. Kristi Noem.
Guebert notes that Republicans in Congress are upset that the Farm Bill they passed a year and a half late doesn't really save the money on Food Stamps on which they had so eagerly, cold-heartedly, and class-warriorly grandstood. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack responded that states are simply working hard to make sure their citizens know and sign up for all the federal benefits for which they are eligible.
Oddly, the Republicans grilling Secretary Vilsack didn't sound upset about USDA working hard to educate corporate farmers about the Farm Bill handouts available to them:
Also on this issue, later in the hearing, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.) noted that, “In light of the education commentary that we’ve heard here today, it’s interesting to note that FSA — these are news releases from FSA which come out regularly — 'USDA reminds producers of approaching deadline on CRP general sign-up.' 'SURE disaster program deadline approaches for 2011 crops.' 'Farmers and ranchers are reminded that the sign-up period for supplemental revenue assistance payments for 2009 losses has opened.' 'Enrollment reminder for direct and countercyclical payments and other FSA programs.'
"My God, if we can be getting notices out for all of these other efforts, we sure ought to be able to get notices out and education out to our farmers about dealing with their participating in the food stamp program" ["House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture- Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request: Highlights," FarmPolicy.com, 2014.03.15].
Confronted with the conflict of their war on the poor with their handouts for the high and mighty, Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham exhibits contemporary conservative know-nothingness:
With the hot air in his balloons gone, Latham retreated to the safety of his own mind. “I know what I know,” he told the secretary.
Which, it seems, is not to be altered by facts, reality or reason.
Little wonder why Congress got the farm bill math wrong: it knows what it knows and everyone else can just shut up.
Try using that logic next time the boss asks why the cows aren’t fed and the corn isn’t planted [Alan Guebert, "'I Know What I Know': Hot Air Still Flying with Farm Bill," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2015.03.27].
South Dakota's clueless Congresswoman fits this pattern of constructing her own talking-point reality perfectly. She knows darn well food stamps do good. She knows darn well food stamps is essential to getting the urban majority in Congress to give a hoot about subsidizing our state's agriculture industry. So she signs on to a Farm Bill that makes it look like she's a crusading conservative but which allows states to continue drawing about as much food aid as before her and her fellow Republicans' two-year tantrum.
I know what I know: Rep. Noem didn't achieve the big ideological Farm Bill goal that she'll be out telling conservative voters she did achieve. Image over substance, imagination over reality... and talking points over practical problem solving. That's the Republican Congress that we need to change.