Republican Farm Policy Makes Perfect Sense

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Observation 1: Farmers tend to be fairly well off. SNAP (food stamp) recipients tend to be poor.

Observation 2: Republicans want to keep federal subsidies in place for farmers, but they want to cut SNAP funding for the poor.

Question: What ideological principle can account for this? Let’s try a few:

  • Libertarianism? Nope. They’d want to cut both.
  • Generic small government conservatism? Nope. They’d also cut both.
  • Liberalism? Nope. Liberals would keep SNAP (or expand it) and cut farm subsidies (or leave them alone for narrow political reasons).
  • Pragmatic technocratism? Nope. Farm subsidies aren’t especially good for the economy and SNAP is reasonably well targeted at genuine need.
  • Class warfare? That would do it.

There’s nothing mystifying about this. Republicans want to cut taxes on the rich and cut spending on the poor. That’s been their basic domestic ideology for decades at least. And guess what? Agricultural subsidies are effectively a tax cut for farmers while SNAP reductions cut spending on the poor. As a bonus, farmers tend to vote for Republicans while poor people tend to vote for Democrats. What’s hard to understand?

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