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Opening Arguments

Splitting up is hard to do

Our Rep. Marlin Stutzman has lately been championing splitting the farm and food stamp programs and considering them separately instead of as a single bill, and some of you might recall that The Journal Gazette editorialized about what a terrible idea this is. People who favor increasing agricultural payouts would stop helping the food stamp people get their goodies, you see, and the food stamp people would no longer cheerlead for the farm programs. Heavens, if that happend, there might be less government spending or some other catastrophe.

It was always hard to get too excited about the proposal, since it seemed to be in pipe-dream territiry. But not so fast:

Could the time actually be ripe to end the perennial pairing of the federal food stamp program together with U.S. agricultural “policy” (hem, hem) into a single “farm bill,” and thereby break up the perverse urban-rural synergy that usually ensures the bill’s passage and deliberately obfuscates its many moving parts? On Monday night, National Review reported that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got pretty frank about his perturbation with GOP chairmen over the unexpected and epic fail of the House farm-bill proposal in June; nevertheless, Roll Call reports today, House leadership has been moving forward with their plan to whip-count the possible separation of the ever-expanding food stamp program and the agribusiness lobby’s corporate-pork menu into two (relatively) standalone pieces of legislation. Even more surprising, the House Agriculture Chairman says there’s at least a possibility he could be okay with it.

This still may be a farfetched idea (see "perverse rural-urban synergy" above), but at least some people are toying with the idea now. Hang in there, Marlin.