First, as many of you may have guessed, the "massive cuts" in food stamps over the next 10 years proposed by House Republicans are basically just a modest reduction in their rate of growth. All attempts to slow the spending growth in any government program will always be treated by the media as Armageddon, which is why government spending seldom slows (see: Sequester).
But I have been amazed through this whole deal that Republicans want to extract a pound (actually probably just an ounce or so) of flesh out of the Food Stamp program but explicitly left the rest of the farm bill with all of its bloated subsidies alone. Henry Olson asks the same question at NRO.
I will add one other observation about food stamps that is sure to have just about everyone disagreeing with me. Of late, Republicans have released a number of reports on food stamp fraud, showing people converting food stamps to cash, presumably so they can buy things with the money that food stamps are allowed to be used for.
Once upon a time, maybe 30 years ago in my more Conservative days, I would get all worked up by the same things. Look at those guys, we give them money for food and they buy booze with it! It must be stopped. Since that time, I suppose I never really revisited this point of view until I was watching the recent stories on food stamp fraud.
But what I began thinking about was this: As a libertarian, I always say that the government needs to respect and keep its hands off the decision-making of individuals. If people make bad choices, paraphrasing from the HBO show Deadwood, then let them go to hell however they choose. And, more often than not, it turns out that when you really look, people are not necessarily making what from the outside looks like a bad choice -- they have information, incentives, pressures, and preferences we folks sitting in our tidy Washington offices, chauffeured to work every day, may not understand.
So if we are going to give people charity - money to survive on when poor and out of work - shouldn't we respect them and their choices? Why attach a myriad of conditions and surveillance to the use of the funds? Of course, this is an opinion that puts me way out of the mainstream. Liberals will treat these folks as potential victims that must be guided paternally, and Conservatives will treat them as potential fraudsters who must be watched carefully. I think either of these attitudes are insidious, and it is better to treat these folks as adults who need help.