CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site.
GOP Congressman Stephen Fincher is on a mission from God. He wants to drastically cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, for 47 million of our poorest citizens. He supports a rider on the farm bill that would effectively eliminate 2 million people from the program, most of them children and older people, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan Washington research group.
The Tea Party caucus member from Tennessee’s 8th district justifies taking food out of the mouths of millions of hungry children and their parents by quoting the Book of Thessalonians: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” He also quoted, a verse from the 26th chapter of Matthew, which says the “poor will always be with us.”
“The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other,” the congressman concedes, but quickly adds “not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.”
While Fincher cites chapter and verse to prove that it is immoral for out of work folks to mooch off government largesse, he fails to mention that his own fingers have been observed in the public till. But not for the sake of a measly loaf of bread or carton of milk, mind you. No, the good congressman is one of Tennessee’s largest-ever recipients of farm subsidy payments– otherwise known as “Big Ag’s Food Stamp program.”
How much exactly has the Tennessee legislator received from hard working American taxpayers? Together with his father and brother, who farm over 2500 acres for cotton in five counties, roughly 8.9 million dollars in cotton subsidies over the last 10 years, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Rep. Fincher, who is the second largest recipient of farm subsidies in the United States Congress– and that is saying a lot– wants to increase federal crop insurance by a whopping 9 billion dollars over the next 10 years. The congressman has not said how much more he would personally reap if these additional federal subsidies are enacted.
The Commercial Appeal reported that in 2010 the Federal Election Commission conducted an investigation into a $250,000 loan to the Fincher campaign from the Gates Banking and Trust Company, where Fincher’s father is a board member. On July 21, 2011, the FEC ruled unanimously that Fincher had violated federal election law by listing the loan as a personal donation rather than from Gates Banking and Trust Company. To date, no penalty has been invoked for the illegal act.
In September 2011, Fincher was named one of the “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, specifically citing the Gates Banking loan. I wonder what Jesus would say about that?
Richard Schiffman is the author of two biographies as well as a journalist whose work has appeared in Salon, The Guardian, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and the Huffington Post. He was also a free-lance journalist for several years at NPR and Monitor Radio.