Tennessee GOP Congressman Stephen Fincher, swept into office in the Tea Party wave of 2010, is on a mission from God.
Armed with an array of proverbs and quotes from the Holy Bible, Congressman Fincher is pressing his fight to dramatically curtail the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—better known to most Americans as food stamps—relied upon by 47 million Americans for some or all of their daily sustenance.
Because the Bible tells him so.
Appearing this past weekend at a gathering at a Memphis Holiday Inn, Fincher explained his position on food stamps by stating, “The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.”
The Congressman’s remarks come on the heels of his taking the biblical route when responding to Representative Juan Vargas’ (D-Calif.) somewhat different take on the teachings of Jesus. During a recent House Agriculture Committee debate over the Farm Bill (which contains the food stamp budget), Vargas, citing the Book of Matthew, noted, “[Jesus] says how you treat the least among us, the least of our brothers, that’s how you treat him.”
Vargas also noted that Jesus directly mentions the importance of feeding the hungry.
Not to be outdone by a Godless Democrat, Congressman Fincher responded with his own Bible quote taken from the Book of Thessalonians—“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
Nicely played, Congressman.
While the biblical back-and-forth is interesting, I wonder if Congressman Fincher would be good enough to refer me to the part of the Bible revealing to us how providing adequate food stamp assistance to those in need violates the teachings of Christianity but venerates accepting government hand-outs in the guise of farm subsidies?
Maybe the Congressman can instruct heathens such as I on how pocketing huge sums of taxpayer money in the guise of farm subsidies is a righteous act, while accepting government subsidies to feed one’s family is an act of—to use Fincher’s own words—stealing from those in the country to give to others in the country?
I don’t ask these questions of Congressman Fincher indiscriminately. I ask them because of Fincher’s unique qualification to provide us with the appropriate proverb intended to instruct.
You see, Representative Fincher happens to be the second largest recipient of farm subsidies in the United States Congress—which might explain why Mr. Fincher would like to decimate the food stamp budget in order to do the Lord’s work when “supporting a proposal to expand crop insurance by $9 billion over the next 10 years.”
How much money are the taxpayers forking over to Congressman Fincher via farm subsidies?
While Fincher may only come in second amongst his congressional peers when it comes to pocketing huge sums of taxpayer money, he has the distinction of being one of the largest recipients of subsidies in the history of the great State of Tennessee.
As reported by Environmental Working Group,
USDA data collected in EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) 2013 farm subsidy database update — going live tomorrow –shows that Fincher collected a staggering $3.48 million in “our” money from 1999 to 2012. In 2012 alone, the congressman was cut a government check for a $70,000 direct payment. Direct payments are issued automatically, regardless of need, and go predominantly to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country.
Fincher’s $70,000 farm subsidy haul in 2012 dwarfs the average 2012 SNAP benefit in Tennessee of $1,586.40, and it is nearly double of Tennessee’s median household income. After voting to cut SNAP by more than $20 billion, Fincher joined his colleagues to support a proposal to expand crop insurance subsidies by $9 billion over the next 10 years.”
EWG additionally points out that while food stamp benefits are restricted to families below specified income levels, there are no such limits on crop insurance subsidies. While SNAP benefits are restricted to families whose income is below specified limits, crop insurance subsidies have no such limitations. As a result, there are farmers in this country who receive a check each and every year for more than $1 million government subsidies while some 10,000 earn more than $100,00 courtesy of the taxpayers.
But I’m sure that Congressman Fincher would gladly offer up the appropriate homily to support the lining his own pockets with taxpayer money while spitting fire and brimstone in the direction of those Americans (earning less than $30,000 a year) getting a little help from the taxpayer when it comes to feeding their families.
After all, it’s in the Bible…right Congressman FIncher?
Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to the pages of Forbes.com, you can find me every Saturday morning on your TV arguing with my more conservative colleagues on “Forbes on Fox” on the Fox News Network and at various other times during the week serving as a liberal talking head on other Fox News and Fox Business Network shows. I also serve as a Democratic strategist with Mercury Public Affairs.