How Callous Are Today’s Republicans?

In National Review, Henry Olsen admonishes Republicans for voting to cut food stamps:

The conservative war on food stamps is the most baffling political move of the year. Conservatives have suffered for years from the stereotype that they are heartless Scrooge McDucks more concerned with our money than other people’s lives. Yet in this case, conservatives make the taking of food from the mouths of the genuinely hungry a top priority. What gives? And why are conservatives overlooking a far more egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars in the farm bill?

It’s almost as if they want to be seen as the party of hand-outs to the very rich and brutal indifference to the needy poor. Tyler Cowen asks why the GOP is fixated on the program:

It doesn’t make sense to go after food stamps, and you can read the recent GOP push here as a sign of weakness, namely that they, beyond upholding the sequester, are unwilling to tackle the more important and more wasteful targets, including Medicare and also defense spending, not to mention farm subsidies.  Here are a few basic numbers on when food stamps have grown and what has driven that growth.  It has not become a “problem program” in the way that say disability has.

Krugman pinpoints how true fanatics and ideologues never see context. Context, after all, leads to understanding of why food stamps are still so big a program – and if understanding contradicts ideology, the shrunken GOP mind cannot compute:

So here’s the thing about SNAP: it’s one federal program that really has exploded in size in recent years, with the number of beneficiaries rising around 80 percent. Of course, it’s exploded for a very good reason, namely a once-in-three-generations economic crisis, and the program has stayed large because our so-called recovery hasn’t trickled down to the bottom half of the income distribution. But the right doesn’t care about any of that; in food stamps, it gets to see what it wants to see — surging government spending! Millions of takers! And so food stamps become public enemy #2.

Number 1 is, of course, Obamacare, which really does represent a major expansion of the government’s role.

Dylan Matthews finds that the food stamps vote was extremely partisan:

Democrats in districts with barely any food stamp users (such as Henry Waxman, whose district’s SNAP usage rate is a paltry 1.7 percent) all voted against cut, and Republicans in districts with huge numbers of food stamp users (such as Hal Rogers, 29 percent of whose district’s households are on SNAP) almost all voted for them. It’s yet another indication that House members are becoming less and less motivated by parochial interests of their districts and more and more unified on party lines.