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Why Is Feeding Hungry People “Cheating” But Farm Subsidy Abuse Is… Fine?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


When governors recently took perfectly legal steps to help hungry people keep their food stamps, House Speaker John Boehner condemned them. 

“Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat, once again, on signing up people for food stamps,” Boehner said scornfully.  “… I would hope that the House would act to try to stop this cheating and this fraud from continuing.”

Watch Boehner deliver these remarks at minute 1:09 in this video:

But when the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered that the error rate for crop insurance subsidies was twice as high as the error rate for the food stamp program, Boehner has been mum:

Apparently, in Speaker Boehner’s upside down world, governors who follow the law (a law he endorsed, by the way) are somehow underhanded.

But if farmers cut corners, he’s okay with that?

The USDA Inspector General’s audit, released earlier this month, found that the heavily-subsidized crop insurance program suffered from an error rate for improper payments of at least 5.23 percent. The audit said the actual number could be higher. And it’s significantly up from last year’s error rate of 4.08 percent.

By contrast, the error rate for overpayments under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, or SNAP, is 2.77 percent, according to USDA

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that crop insurance will cost taxpayers at least $90 billion over the next 10 years. As EWG has reported, prosecutions for crop insurance fraud have proliferated as the program has expanded.

One farmer even used ice cubes to fake a hailstorm. Is that “cheating” and “fraud?” Let’s ask Boehner.  

Of course, the real question is why lawmakers in a time of extreme fiscal constraint created a program that would provide unlimited taxpayer-financed subsidies to the largest and most successful farm businesses.

Photo Courtesy of Boehner.House.Gov


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