Farm Bill: Sec. Tom Vilsack blasts the House GOP’s “budget gimmicks”

Later today, the House Ag Committee will begin the important “mark-up” process of Chairman GT Thompson’s Farm Bill.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is criticizing the bill, saying it relies on “budget gimmicks” that promise more than they can deliver.

“In order to do everything that the House bill is attempting to do, it would require somewhere in the perhaps $30, $40 as much as $50 billion being assessed to that particular action. So there’s a quite a delta between an $8 billion CBO impartially, designed designated score and the utilization of some budget gimmick to essentially create sort of counterfeit money, if you will, to be able to fit all of the other efforts that this Farm Bill is proposing, and that it risks the ability of this particular proposal to get through the process in a timely way.”

When asked about the elimination of the felony ban in the SNAP program and whether it would make it harder for Democrats to vote against the bill, Vilsack responded that the problem lies in funding.

“Well, the problem is it comes at the expense of all families who participate in the SNAP program, and your question raises a really important point here, which is you can’t rob Peter to pay Paul.If you’re serious about extending coverage and snap, which obviously this Administration supports, and many in Congress support is, you know, a fair thing to do. You ought to find legitimately the resources to be able to do it without cutting the very program that you’re trying to extend. I believe that what has been proposed for SNAP will result in a $27 billion savings. A better way to do this is to find, as Senator Stabenow has found, additional resources outside of the Farm Bill to add to the Farm Bill.”