Mr. Boehner was unable to win support from 62 Republicans on the party’s conservative fringe, who cast no votes because they believed the $20.5 billion cut in the food stamps program did not go deep enough. Nearly all Democrats also voted no because that draconian cut would have eliminated food assistance for nearly two million people.Peter Fenn at U.S. News & World Report:
It appears some Democrats, who might have voted for the House bill, were repelled by a last-minute Republican amendment that added a punitive work requirement to food stamp eligibility rules. That came on top of an offensive amendment Republicans pushed through on Wednesday to authorize states to conduct drug testing of food stamp applicants, despite studies showing they are no more likely than nonbeneficiaries to be using drugs.
Really, who would like to be in John Boehner's shoes right now? His caucus is harder to deal with than a nest full of angry wasps.George Zornick at The Nation had an interview with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi before the vote, in which she explained why Democrats were going to vote against the bill:
Notably, Pelosi also said that if the GOP made the SNAP cuts even worse, "all bets are off." Shortly before the final vote, House Republicans passed "one of the most extreme SNAP amendments to be offered in the program's history," that would basically pay states to cut off SNAP benefits.The Los Angeles Times editorial board also came out strongly against the bill because of Republican attempts to hurt the poor:
"The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat," Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) said in quoting the Bible last month of the 48 million hungry Americans, mostly working families and senior citizens, who require federal help to put food on the table. That misguided principle stands at the center of a House farm bill that threatens $20.5 billion in cuts over a decade to food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Pursuing the sacred cause of deficit reduction, Congress would sooner shrink aid to struggling families than substantially reform farm subsidies, of which Fincher, who owns a family cotton farm, is one of the largest recipients in Tennessee history.More on the day's top stories below the fold.
Jay Bookman over at The Atlanta Journal Constitution says that the farm bill's fate is an ominous sign for future policy in the House:
Why did so many Republicans vote in defiance of their speaker on such a critical bill? Well, the legislation cut $20.5 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years, five times more than the cuts approved in the Senate farm bill. That provision had drawn a veto promise from President Obama and ensured strong Democratic opposition.Switching topics, Paul Krugman at The New York Times examines how the American economy has changed into one that has a major disconnect between profits and production:
But you see, most of those 62 Republicans voted no because in their minds, those cuts weren't nearly deep enough. In fact, they refuse to vote in favor of the bill until the food-stamp program is taken out of the farm bill altogether, so they can more easily cut the program into confetti. That's why groups such as the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation were celebrating the bill's defeat as a major victory. [...]
That's interesting in its own right, but it also tells us something about the future of the immigration bill in the House. House leadership crafted a farm bill that they believed was conservative enough to pass with Republicans and a relative handful of farm-state Democrats behind it. But more than 60 Republicans still said nope, that sorry piece of RINO legislation isn't even close to conservative enough.
The result? No farm bill, a humiliated speaker, and a House of Representatives unable to perform duties that for most of our nation's history have been pretty routine. Given that performance, what are the odds that Boehner will be able to pull together a majority of the GOP caucus -- that's 118 Republicans -- plus 100 Democrats to pass a far more controversial and high-profile immigration bill?
[E]conomies do change over time, and sometimes in fundamental ways. So what’s really different about America in the 21st century?On the issue of climate change, The Los Angeles Times praises New York Mayor Bloomberg for thinking ahead and preparing society now for the effects of climate change:
The most significant answer, I’d suggest, is the growing importance of monopoly rents: profits that don’t represent returns on investment, but instead reflect the value of market dominance. Sometimes that dominance seems deserved, sometimes not; but, either way, the growing importance of rents is producing a new disconnect between profits and production and may be a factor prolonging the slump.[...]
You might suspect that this can’t be good for the broader economy, and you’d be right. If household income and hence household spending is held down because labor gets an ever-smaller share of national income, while corporations, despite soaring profits, have little incentive to invest, you have a recipe for persistently depressed demand. I don’t think this is the only reason our recovery has been so weak — weak recoveries are normal after financial crises — but it’s probably a contributory factor.
These might be as sweeping as planning out sources of water for the West — including desalination plants and more recycling and required efficiency in water use — or as specific as a community identifying cooled buildings where the elderly and other fragile people can go during prolonged hot spells and providing transportation to get them there. It might also include planning for crop losses and other flood-related damage in the Northeast, where precipitation has increased 67% over the past 50 years, or building levees and drainage.Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), meanwhile, says President Obama should block the Keystone pipeline:
Expensive? Very. But the price of doing nothing would be far greater. And that's worth remembering when President Obama releases his expected proposal for reducing the carbon footprint, which will almost surely include new restrictions for coal-burning plants, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. Adjusting to climate change will require clear thinking and significant investment, but if the nation sticks its collective head in the sand, it will find that sand covered by rising seas.
I’m a pro-pipeline senator. As a former mayor of Richmond, a city with a gas utility, I think it makes no sense to be anti-pipeline. But I oppose the Keystone XL project. Although the president’s decision is technically over whether to allow a pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the real issue isn’t the pipeline. It’s the wisdom of using tar sands oil.
By most accounts, oil from tar sands is 15 to 20 percent dirtier than conventional petroleum, and the process of extracting and refining it is more difficult and resource-intensive. With so many cleaner alternatives, there is no reason to embrace the use of a dirtier fuel source.Approving the pipeline would send a clear signal to the markets to expand the development of tar sands oil. Such an expansion would hurt our nation’s work to reduce carbon emissions. We have to make energy cleaner tomorrow than it is today. That’s why the president should block Keystone.