Cong. Cotton: Farm Bill ‘A Bad Deal For Arkansas’

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 7 views 

Cong. Tom Cotton, the Fourth District Republican, who is a likely challenger to U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D) in 2014, outlines his arguments for opposing last week’s Farm Bill in an guest commentary in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Cotton has been roundly criticized by Arkansas agricultural interests for his opposition to the bill, which failed, and political pundits view it as a liability for his electability.

Cotton says the Farm Bill was “a bad deal for Arkansas.” He writes:

That’s why I was disappointed with the Farm Bill considered by the House recently, which was a bad deal for Arkansas farmers and taxpayers. It had a staggering $940 billion cost, an incredible 56 percent increase-$335 billion-from the 2008 Farm Bill, at a time when we’re $17 trillion in debt. Yet Arkansas farmers would’ve received less than 1 percent of the money from its farm programs, and over 75 percent of Arkansas farmers were expected to receive nothing from these programs.

In truth, the Farm Bill should be called the Food Stamp Bill. Many Arkansans may not realize that nearly 80 percent of spending in the Farm Bill goes toward nutrition programs-primarily food stamps.

While food stamps can provide needed temporary aid for struggling Arkansans, the program is riddled with fraud and abuse. Food-stamp usage under President Barack Obama has resulted in long-term dependency for too many people as Americans struggle to find jobs with decent wages. Today, almost 1 in 7 Americans use food stamps, and 50 percent of recipients have used them for more than five years.

While some say the bill would’ve cut food-stamp costs by $20 billion, that’s typical Washington smoke and-mirror budgeting, measuring only against an artificial baseline. In fact, food-stamp spending would’ve grown from $378 billion to $670 billion. This isn’t surprising, though, since President Obama encourages and rewards states for adding people to food-stamp rolls. The Mexican government is even paid to advertise American food stamps.

Cotton concludes that the bill “cost too much for Arkansas taxpayers and provided too little for Arkansas farmers. That’s why I couldn’t support it.”

He stops short of addressing a point made by several political and agricultural interests that the Food Stamp program is an entitlement program and stoppage of a new bill is likely to keep spending at current levels or possibly see them grow.

With a subscription to the newspaper, you can read his full comments here.