Floor Updates

Sessions, Brown-OH

Farm bill (S. 3240)

Jun 07 2012

05:00 PM

Senator Sessions: (3:54 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "What might surprise many people to learn is that the overwhelming majority of funds in the Farm bill are not spent on anything to do with farmers or even agriculture production. For instance, crop insurance amounts to just 8% of what we'd be spending. Horticulture is less than 1%. But a full 80% of the Farm bill spending goes to the federal food stamp program. Yet 83% of the small savings that are found in this proposal come from that, $23 billion in cuts, none of which occur next year out of almost $1 trillion in spending over ten years are taken over almost $1 trillion are taken from the farm provisions. So about $23 billion in cuts, most of that are taken from the farm provisions, the 20% that goes to that. Food stamp spending is virtually untouched. I believe they proposed $4 billion in savings in the 80%, in the food stamp program, and $17 billion out of the 20%. So overall, the legislation will spend $82 billion on food stamps next year, $82 billion, and an estimated $770 billion over the next ten years Food stamp spending has more than quadrupled, four times, fourfold since the year 2001. It has increased 100% since President Obama took office, doubled in just that amount of time. There are a number of reasons for this arresting trend. While a poor economy has undeniably increased the number of people who qualify for food stamps, this alone does not explain the extraordinary growth in the program. For instance, between 2001 and 2006, food stamp spending doubled by the unemployment rate remained around 5%. So from 2001 to 2006, we had a doubling of food stamps while unemployment was the same. When the food stamp program was first expanded nationwide, about one in 50 Americans received food stamp benefits. Today, nearly one in seven receive food stamp benefits Three factors help explain this increase. First, is that eligibility standards have been significantly loosened over time with dramatic drop in eligibility standards in the last few years. Second, it has been the explicit policy, goal of the federal bureaucracies to increase the number of people on food stamps. Bonus pay is even offered to states who sign more people up. States administer this program. And third, the way the system is arranged with states administering their program but the federal government providing all the money, all of it, states don't match food stamps. States have an incentive, don't you see, to see their food stamp budget grow, not shrink because it's more federal money coming into the state for which they pay no part of. So that means overlooking, I'm afraid, I hate to say, dramatic amounts of fraud and abuse because the enforcement and supervision is given over to the states. So I filed a modest package of food stamp reforms to the Farm bill which will achieve several important goals. Save taxpayer dollars, which is a good thing ... in how the program is administered. Confront widespread waste. Direct food stamps to those who truly need them and help more Americans achieve financial independence."

Senator Brown-OH: (4:32 PM)
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "If we're not able to freeze interest rates on Stafford loans for at least another year, these students will be faced with another thousand dollars in addition to what they're already facing. And it's really become a moral issue. When we turn over to our society, to these young people, they come out of school, if they face this kind of debt, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a year, means they're less likely to buy a house, means they're less likely to start a business, it patrol means they're less likely to start a family. And do we want to do that to a generation of smart, young, enthusiastic, talented people instead of giving them a bet launch for their lives in their 20's and 30's. And that's why it's essential we do this We passed this freeze. President Bush signed legislation to freeze these student loan interest rates for Stafford subsidized student loans at 3.4%. But if we don't act - it was a five-year freeze. If we don't act by July 1, 2012, five years after we passed it, it's going to mean these loans are going to double. And, again, it's a thousand dollars more per student ... It's incumbent upon us, it's a moral question not to load up more debt on these young people so they can really develop their talents in a way that not only will help them individually, not only will help their families but will help our society prosper."