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DeLauro Questions Billionaire Farm Subsidies

by Christine Stuart | Nov 13, 2013 1:00pm
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Agriculture, Congress

Hugh McQuaid file photo

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the former chairwoman of the subcommittee responsible for funding the Agriculture Department, wrote 50 billionaires Tuesday and asked them to provide more information about the subsidies they receive under the farm bill.

DeLauro pointed to research done by the Environmental Working Group, which found 50 leaders of some of the most successful companies, such as Microsoft, Chick-fil-A, DISH Network, and Charles Schwab Corp., received $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies between 1995 and 2012. The net worth of the individuals receiving the subsidies was estimated by the environmental group at $316 billion.

Many of these same billionaires also may have received crop insurance subsidies, but taxpayers have no way of knowing because current law prohibits the disclosure of the identities of crop insurance policyholders.

In her letter, DeLauro asked the recipients to disclose whether they receive crop insurance subsidies as well.

“Since the crop insurance payments are not public, can you confirm what you have received in crop insurance subsidies and over what period?” DeLauro asked.

She pointed out that the Republican majority in the House chose to cut about $40 billion from the food stamp program, which is part of the farm bill, while preserving farm subsidies via crop insurance.

“We cannot look at food stamps alone,” DeLauro said in a statement accompanying the letter. “We must examine the Farm Bill in its entirety.”

Republicans in the House are focused on cutting money from the food stamp program, while some Democrats are looking elsewhere in the bill for savings.

“The Congressional Budget Office estimates these cuts to the food stamp program would result in 3.8 million poor people being denied benefits in 2014, and an average of almost 3 million low-income Americans losing benefits annually over the next decade,” DeLauro wrote to Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft whose Kona Residence Trust received $14,429 in barley subsidies from 1996 to 2006.

DeLauro wrote similar letters to the rest of the 49 billionaire group.

In 2012, the federal government provided about $697 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Connecticut to feed an average of 403,466 individuals per month. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on Nov. 1 the state received a $44 million cut in funding to the program when the temporary expansion under the stimulus ended.

“This cut of $5 billion in 2014, and $11 billion over the next three years, will cut benefits for a family of three by an average of $29, or 16 meals, each month,” Delauro wrote referring to the Nov. 1 reduction.

Both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the farm bill and are working to resolve the differences between them.

Negotiators in both the House and the Senate are hoping to reach a compromise before Thanksgiving, according to news reports. However, it’s unlikely they will restore all the cuts the House made to the food stamp program.

Click here to read the Mother Jones article on the strategy Democrats may use to block a vote on food stamp cuts by killing the farm bill.

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(13) Comments

posted by: Art Vandelay | November 13, 2013  1:59pm

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones.  Rosa DeLauro’s net worth is something close to $26 million dollars making her the 22nd richest person in the House.  She shouldn’t be picking on billionaires.  I like billionaires, they create jobs.  How many jobs has Rosa DeLauro created with her agenda?  In her 29 years in Congress she has yet to pass one bill of her own sponsorship.  Her time has come and she needs to go.

posted by: Matt W. | November 13, 2013  2:26pm

Matt W.

Good job of rooting out the waste in the farm subsidy program DeLauro.  Now take a look at the waste in the food stamp program and we might start getting somewhere.  It’s not hard to find b/c no one is trying to hide it.

posted by: justsayin | November 13, 2013  2:32pm

Like president Obama on most things lately, I am sure Paul Allen, “did not know” but is very concerned.

posted by: gutbomb86 | November 13, 2013  5:22pm

gutbomb86

Those are wonderful comments coming from two dudes who likely never missed a meal in their lives, or, if they did, they’ve long forgotten what it was like. Typical hackery that doesn’t contribute anything valuable to the story.

Art and Matt complain about gov’t spending but then they go ahead and attack Rep. DeLauro because she’s a democrat, despite the fact that she just pointed out waste. Your tax dollars are being handed to billionaires receiving farm subsidies they don’t need while youngsters get one or two fewer meals a month. But you “like” billionaires of course. Ridiculous. That’s just waste. Tax breaks and subsidies for billionaires are a waste. Get it? Hello? You’re just proving that you don’t care about waste. You just care about partisan sniping.

posted by: justsayin | November 13, 2013  9:57pm

Gut, she is picking the fly dodo out of the pepper. As Matt said, there is a mountain of waste she is not focused on, there are votes in that pile. As I have said before separate the bill, Farm, Food Stamps and whatever else is lumped in then we an tackle the issues. $14K to Paul Allen will be way down the list.

posted by: Art Vandelay | November 13, 2013  11:25pm

To Gutbomb68,
I like Billionaires because people like Bill Gates & Steve Jobs created thousands of jobs.  I like billionaires like Vanderbilt, Ford, Carnagie, because in their time, they too created jobs.  I dislike socialists like Rosa DeLauro, Dick Blumenthal, and Barack Obama.  They seek to redistribute wealth and regulate private businesses to the point where they cannot make profits which IMHO IS the American Way.  Don’t get me wrong, the poor and disadvantaged need help, but we don’t need to “fundamentally change” our society to do so.

posted by: gutbomb86 | November 14, 2013  1:17am

gutbomb86

More paranoid nonsense from Art on “socialism” ... thanks, Art. Still ridiculous, but thanks. Your approval of compassionate multi-million dollar subsidies for your favorite billionaires is really quite touching. Disconnected and unrelated, but touching all the same.

So it’s OK with the folks in this thread that the federal gov’t is giving $11.3 million to 50 billionaires who don’t need it, but it’s not OK that people who don’t have enough to eat will get even less, because you suggest that there’s other waste going on.

You people have no morale compass whatsoever. Get your priorities straight.

posted by: dano860 | November 14, 2013  10:37am

That is a poor example, $14,429 over 10 years. That is about $1,430 per year!? To them it costs more to apply for that little amount that it’s worth.
Look at the list, some are pulling in much more but I think they need to look way deep into where the money really goes.
Factory farms are not new, they came about through the collapse of the individually owned family farm. It was the best option for the farmer, at the time, to stay in business. They sold to conglomeration buyers that then invested in the farm. They would get the farmer new equipment and repair all the buildings and housing for them. Of course that helped our economy, sort of like a military contract. Just another form of redistribution of our tax $‘s.
Do they need to take another look at this? Certainly! They need to look at the compensation given to farmers that sow nor reap any crops. They are paid by the government to do just that, raise nothing.
They tell everyone that this is a part of our ‘food security’ plan but it needs review again too.

posted by: Matt W. | November 14, 2013  11:51am

Matt W.

Gut, you’re a bit paranoid.  When I wrote, “good job of rooting out the waste in the farm subsidy program”.  I meant it. I’m glad she found it b/c waste is waste whether it’s in the farm subsidy, defense spending or shrimp on treadmills.  However, the waste (and outright fraud) in the food subsidy program makes this look silly in comparison.

BTW - I grew up as the youngest of 16 kids to an Irish-Catholic family in the farmland of PA. I put my life on the line and lost several good friends in the USMC to protect your right to make ridiculous presumptions about people and put myself through college and law school.  I’ve missed my meals my friend and it kept me hungry.

posted by: gutbomb86 | November 15, 2013  1:22am

gutbomb86

Matt - clearly you haven’t missed any meals lately, otherwise you’d have a little more compassion for people - children mostly - who are hungry right now at this moment. And we’re talking about children who are too young to enlist in the Marine Corps where training, as I understand it, includes regular meals.

Maybe you should try skipping just one of your regular daily meals for a few days and it’ll jog your memory a bit and remind you of the difference between actual hunger from a lack of caloric intake and being mentally “hungry” with that good old capitalist “eye of the tiger” bunk. That wonderful “teach them to fish” speech really goes over well when you are taking food out of the mouths of a 6- or 7-year-old.

If you have children of your own, maybe you might go ahead and cut their meals for a few days and see how that goes. Let them know they’re missing meals because you’re concerned about government waste.

The SNAP program is known to be one of the most effective publicly funded programs on the books. I think I read - on this site - that more than 90% of the money goes back into the economy within a week. Why? Because it’s spent on food, rather than being deposited into the accounts of billionaires who don’t need the money. Corporate welfare is the far greater fraud, Matt, and you know that. It’s a far greater fraud both quantitatively and morally.

posted by: ASTANVET | November 15, 2013  8:09am

Geez Gutbomb - your statements make no sense - Matt isn’t going to cut his kids meals to root out government waste when he isn’t taking any government assistance.  And you are so ideologically driven, you cannot even acknowledge that there is a problem in the SNAP program, a problem with the EBT system, that putting those programs in the “farm bill” is misleading so as to manipulate the outcome?  like matt, I grew up dirt poor - my mom bought a condemned house that we fixed ourselves to live in.  Not every dollar saved ‘takes food from babies’ and while you may find it comforting to paint conservatism with that brush, it just isn’t reality.  Why is there statistically more social security disability in the inner cities?  more food stamps, more welfare, more medicare, more government programs per capita than rural america?  Are people more pre-disposed to getting disabled?  you don’t think there is one person who is milking the system?

posted by: dano860 | November 15, 2013  8:33am

Gut, the question remains, do you think that they should be reviewing the money given to the ‘millionaire’s’ or not?
Do you think that this is the reason for SNAP?
Do you think Rosa is wrong or is she wonderful?
What does your rant have to do with the story?
Personal attacks do not advance good debate.

posted by: JH_1 | November 15, 2013  10:00am

There is a lot more waste in government programs than what most liberals are willing to admit.

In my opinion, a lot of the government assistance programs are good and should help the truly needy people, temporarily.  After all, that’s what they were intended to do.  Unfortunately, most of those programs have gotten too big and too easy to manipulate.  And the worse part is that most people that go on the assistance programs never get off of them.

I base this opinion not on idealogy, but personal experience.  I’ll give 3 examples:

1) A few years ago, I stopped by a liquer store to visit a friend who worked there.  While there, an older scruffy looking guy walked in and bought fifteen 30 packs of beer.  My friend told me that guy came to the store every month and used his disability check to pay for that beer.  His disability…...alcoholism.

2) My parents rent a house they own in one of the cities.  The renters have been together for over 20 years but refuse to get married because as a married couple, their combined incomes would put them over the threshold to receive state assistance in paying the rent.  They get 100% of the rent covered.

3) My mom is a supervisor in a manufacturing plant.  Although overtime is regularly available, several people that work in the plant refuse to work over a certain number of hours so their income doesn’t exceed a certain threshold and they risk losing their welfare checks and SNAP assistance.  All the while, they’re walking around with the latest iPhone in one hand and an iPad in the other.


Rather than exapnding these entitlement programs, I’d love to see our politicans address the waste / fraud and put the savings towards the people that truly need it. 

I got off topic a little.  Glad to see Delauro questioning wasteful spending, but I agree that more can be done elsewhere too.