Criticizing food aid for poor Americans, GOP Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee accused the government of stealing “other people’s money” in order to provide funding for the aid.
In both the House and the Senate versions of the recent Farm Bill, funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has already been severely slashed, cutting off nearly 2 million working families, children, and seniors from food assistance.
Invoking the Bible in his defense of the devastating cuts, Fincher said, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
During a talk in Memphis this weekend, Fincher continued with his biblical interpretation, saying that “the role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.”
Interestingly, Fincher has not condemned the Farm Bill’s massive agricultural subsidies. In what many see as an example of hypocrisy, he supported a proposal to expand crop insurance by $9 billion over the next 10 years. Fincher relies heavily on these government handouts, since he is the second most heavily subsidized farmer in Congress and one of the largest subsidy recipients in Tennessee history. In a USDA farm subsidy data base update, Fincher collected a staggering $3.48 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies.
According to the Environmental Working Group, crop insurance subsidies have no limits on their recipients’ income levels. Therefore, the bulk of the crop insurance is paid out in million-dollar installments to a small group of large farm businesses, while the bottom 80 % of farmers receive roughly $5,000 a year. SNAP, on the other hand, limits aid to income below 130 % of the federal poverty line, or $30,000 per year for a family of four.