The everyday corruption of our government by Big Money has real consequences for Americans, many of whom are struggling to feed their families.
Take the farm bill that Congress spent time working on this week. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced an amendment to restore $4.5 billion in funding for the food stamp program, which assists some of the poorest Americans, by cutting “guaranteed profit for crop insurance companies from 14 to 12 percent and by lowering payments for crop insurers from $1.3 billion to $825 million.”
But there was a separate effort in the Senate this week to save money that would’ve spared the poorest Americans and taken on corporate welfare instead.
Senators Jean Shaheen (D-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced an amendment that would save up to $3.5 billion every single year by repealing and reforming various subsidies, tariffs, and other price supports that prop up the price of sugar on behalf of the Sugar Lobby.
The amendment was rejected along a 46-53 vote, with bipartisan coalitions on either side.
It’s not a coincidence that the poor — who do not have well-heeled lobbyists at their disposal — lost while the powerful Sugar Lobby maintained its government favors. As The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney explained last week, Big Sugar has all sorts of deep connections to Washington:
But the lobby for the sugar program is strong. Most famously, the Fanjul family in Florida, owner of Florida Crystals, are deeply embedded in Washington politics. Over the last three elections, the Fanjuls have given more than $1.8 million to federal candidates and political action committees, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Alfie Fanjul is a longtime Democratic fundraiser (Bill Clinton once interrupted a liaison with Monica Lewinsky to take a call from Alfie). His brother Pepe is a Republican booster. In January, Pepe and his wife hosted a $2,500-a-head Palm Beach fundraiser for Mitt Romney.
“The U.S. sugar program is essentially a transfer of wealth from consumers, including the poorest Americans, to a handful of wealthy sugar producers,” said Toomey regretfully in a statement after his amendment was rejected. Unfortunately, this is the reality in America where Big Money runs the legislative process.