The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports on final passage last week of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known in the vernacular as the “farm bill” to set a wide variety of food production and access policies for the next five years–a bill that Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the agribusiness-heavy Eastern Plains of Colorado, voted against:
Ken Buck this past week had his first opportunity to support farmers in the Fourth Congressional District via a final farm bill vote. His “no” vote in the U.S. House of Representatives had some farm advocates scratching their heads, even if they’re still celebrating a landslide victory for the bill…
Buck defended his vote by pointing to the increase in food stamp recipients during the Great Recession, arguing that millions of people who came onto the rolls “got used to food stamps.”
“That’s what we were trying to address,” Buck said. “Those people who got used to food stamps, how do we get them back into the employment world?”
For all of his time in office, Rep. Ken Buck has been reliably frank in his positions–even when they’re politically unpleasant. But left unsaid in Buck’s call for the “takers” of America to put some “skin in the game” in exchange for food stamps is the fact that there are already such requirements in place. Since the last big push for “welfare reform” in 1996, able-bodied food stamp beneficiaries have been limited to three months of benefits every three years without qualifying work, job training, or volunteer service. The GOP’s now-scrapped proposal to increase those work requirements would have directly resulted in 1.2 million fewer Americans every month getting food stamps.
Which is great if you’ve got Buck’s “makers vs. takers” mentality, not so much if you’re, you know, hungry.
But again, Buck is a very predictable Scrooge-y case of ideological lack of sympathy, representing an overwhelmingly conservative district unlikely to ever penalize him for it. But another Colorado vote against the farm bill justified by the same insulting “tough love” approach to food stamp recipients, might surprise some of our readers–the Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason:
“I voted for the initial version of this bill, which passed the House of Representatives back in June, largely because it included some significant and important reforms to the food stamp program,” Coffman, who represents mostly suburban Aurora outside of Denver, said in an email to constituents.
“Specifically, it required able-bodied, working-aged individuals who are not the primary caregiver for minor dependent children, either to find some work (part-time or full-time), participate in a job training program, or volunteer with an approved non-profit to remain eligible for SNAP assistance.”
Coffman said the most important part of the Farm Bill was the SNAP program and couldn’t support it without the reforms. [Pols emphasis]
Of course, if you’re familiar with Rep. Mike Coffman’s long record in office–especially before his congressional district was redrawn in 2011 into a diverse swing seat–Coffman’s extolment of the “dignity and and improved self-esteem that comes from work” to undercut food stamp beneficiaries isn’t much of a surprise. This is the same Mike Coffman, after all, who called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and once declared himself “a proud member of the ‘Party of No.'” Mike Coffman tried hard and spent big to reinvent his image into “a different kind of Republican,” and it worked all the way up until November of 2018.
In the final days of Mike Coffman’s political career, there’s at last no reason to hide his true colors.