Food stamp recipients would receive more than half a loaf under the farm bill compromise reached by House and Senate negotiators Monday, and while the proposed 1 percent cut over 10 years is less painful than the 5 percent cut House Republicans had been holding out for, try telling that to someone struggling to get by on the average monthly allotment of $133 — someone whose benefit was cut 5 percent just a few months ago!
The bill’s passage is by no means assured; the full House is expected to vote on it today, and conservatives may reject it as too generous. Ditto Senate liberals for the opposite reason; they approved a cut of just 0.5 percent last summer.
And while the rest of the farm bill is not great — it includes overly generous subsidies for some farmers who don’t deserve them — it’s probably the best that can be hoped for given the extreme partisanship dominating Washington politics these days. As it is, it took more than two years to reach this compromise.
Given the persistently weak economy — especially for lower-end workers — Congress should be adding, not cutting, the food stamp program (and adding some good-nutrition stipulations as well). But not everybody sees it that way, so a cut that fortunately amounts to little more than a token will have to suffice.