First District Congressional candidate Allen Quist said today that he believes the so-called "farm bill" needs to be sent back to the House Agriculture Committee for repair. Quist said the bill is financially irresponsible and unacceptable as it is.
Quist said that at least three major revisions need to be made in the bill. The first, he said, is the public has a right to know that 80% of the spending in the bill is for food stamps (also call SNAP--Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), not conservation programs or farm programs.
According to Quist, the bill should be divided into two separate bills--one being a farm bill, the other being a food stamp bill. "Having two different subjects in one bill is one of the reasons federal spending is out of control," Quist said.
A second change, according to Quist, is that eligibility requirements for food stamps need to be revised so that married people and couples who cohabit are treated equally. It is easier to qualify for food stamps if you don't get married and that is a reason why 2/3 of food stamps go to unmarried people, Quist said. He also stated that it is wrong for Washington to discriminate against married people--as is also the case with Obamacare.
The third and biggest problem with the bill, according to Quist, is its unacceptable level of spending--$ 1/2 a trillion over the next five years--spending that balloons our national debt. "When will Washington stop spending money it doesn't have?"asked Quist.
According to Quist, we spent $30 billion on food stamps in 2007, but that amount more than doubled to $78 billion last year, and this bill brings food stamp spending up to $80 billion per year for the next five years. "We need to be cutting spending, not increasing it," he said.
Quist said that the Food Stamp Bill presents Congress with the all-important question of whether it is willing to change the destructive financial course it has been following.
Quist said he favors the plan of Congressman Paul Ryan to block grant food stamp money to the states and allow them to administer the program, adding their own money to the program if they wish. He said Congress has demonstrated its incompetence in administering the food stamp program; he believes the states will do better. He added that block grants give states incentives to keep costs down. As it is now, the federal government pays the entire cost of the food stamps themselves while states only pay half the administrative costs. According to Quist, government should be trying to get people off food stamps, not trying to get them on.
Quist explained that when citizens elect someone to represent them in Congress, they are essentially hiring that person to be a good manager of the nation's resources, financial and otherwise. Quist said he will take that responsibility very seriously.