February 05, 2016

#FeelTheBern an actual #socialist on #BigAg — Just.Another.Politician.™

Specifically, Bernie Sanders is a both a corporate socialist and a welfare socialist, all in one bill signed into law in 2014 by President Barack Obama.
President Obama added his signature to legislation that will cut $8.7 billion in food stamp benefits over the next 10 years, causing 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month.  
And, like his stance on guns, it shows that, beyond pragmatism, Bernie can be Just.Another.Politician.™ when he feels it is politically necessary. Sometimes that's good, but sometimes that's not.

The 2014 Farm Bill cut a certain program within Department of Agriculture, the Feed and Eat program.

Yes, the link has been passed around the interwebz largely by Clintonistas, of that I have no doubt. But, it's still disconcerting, no matter who's peddling it.

Beyond the cuts, it pretty much left intact U.S. agricultural subsidies. Actually, it moved them to a back door and may have increased them. Those include to the dairy farmers of Vermont who supply Cabot Cheese and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. And, it increases corporate payouts to the privatized operators of ag insurance programs.

Bernie favored this bill, along with a squish like Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow:
“This is a nutrition bill that makes sure families have a safety net just like farmers do,” she said. “The savings in food assistance came solely from addressing fraud and misuse while maintaining the important benefits for families that need temporary help.”
When Democrats spout their version of Reaganesque “waste, fraud and abuse,” but never aim it at the corporatized farmers who benefit, in this case.

Of course, Bernie the corporate welfare guy had plenty of company with Stabenow. Only 9 Senate Dems opposed the bill.

However, to reframe that, nine Senate Democrats not named Bernie Sanders did find room to oppose this bill. It's a nice "meme" to call this a bill the Republicans held hostage. However, given that in places like California, most agriculture is owned by massive corporations, Democrats could have dug in their heels had they so chosen. (More here about corporate agriculture.)

There's yet more here, on America's top 100 landowners. Not all are farmers, but many are "farmers" for tax write-offs, if nothing else. And wingnuts like Phil Anschutz, Walton-in-law Stan Kroenke, the Simplots and others, populate that list heavily. No. 39 on the list, with farm holdings? The good old Koch Brothers. All potential hostages for Dems to get more money for food stamps — had they chosen to take hostages.

The bill's consequences, including for social justice, go beyond America.

Now, dairy, unless made into cheese or ice cream, especially the former, doesn't travel well. But, agricultural subsidies of the U.S. and the European Union penalize farmers in places like sub-Saharan Africa.

And, per that top 100 landowners link, many of them are not only corporatized in the US, but abroad as well. That only adds to the issue of farm subsidies.

This gets back to what I said a week ago about Sanders' one-note trumpet not sounding very much on foreign policy. There are issues of economic justice on fair trade promoting good labor rights and workplace safety rights. There are also issues of economic justice on developed world farm subsidies.

And, on that, as well as on corporate farm welfare, Sanders kind of missed the boat.

Of course, this isn't the good kind of corporate socialism. That good kind would be nationalizing some of our health care services.

Is Sanders "bad"? No. Is the lesser of two evils sometimes a big enough difference that the good is not the enemy of the best? Yes.

At the same time, this is why I remain, for now, a supporter of Sanders in the Democratic primaries only.

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