Holy cow, Batman! According to the bat-computer a new arch-villain is afoot! It just forwarded us a report by Daily Kos about a Republican congressman who “rants from the House floor” that the poor shouldn't be allowed to spend “other people's money.” And yet he’s received nearly $3.5 million in federal government handouts, and is clearly planning to grab even more!
Robin, it should come as no surprise that the hypocrite in question is yet another Tennessee holy roller, Rep. Stephen Fincher. I know the type well. During a recent gathering at a Memphis Holiday Inn, Fincher explained his position on food stamps by saying: “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.” But it turns out that Fincher has taken $3.48 million in taxpayer subsidies from 1999 to 2012, according to figures compiled by the Environmental Working Group. He seems to love spending other people’s money, as long as he’s the beneficiary, not someone truly in need. In fact, Fincher is the second-most-subsidized member of Congress. Only Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) has received more federal farm aid, $4.9 million since 1995.
Holy bill of rights, Batman! While he may play second fiddle to LaMalfa in Congress, as Forbes pointed out, Fincher “has the distinction of being one of the largest recipients of subsidies in the history of the great State of Tennessee.” Isn’t it ironic that the Tennessean preaching the loudest, fieriest sermons about not spending other people’s money is the one cashing the biggest, fattest government checks?
Robin, I am not at all surprised. Tennessee has become a seed bed of Tea Party fundamentalism. According to Forbes, Fincher is “on a mission from God.” How does he intend to serve God and country? Well, “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.”
Holy starving children, Batman! Fincher’s government windfall of $70,000 in 2012 not only dwarfs the average Tennessee 2012 SNAP benefit of $1,586, but is nearly double Tennessee's median household income. And yet, after voting to cut SNAP by more than $20 billion, Fincher supported a proposal to expand crop insurance subsidies by nine billion dollars over the next ten years. Even worse, the insurance subsidies are not currently disclosed, so we may never know how much more money Fincher and his cronies are voting into their pocketbooks, at the taxpayers’ expense!
Robin, unfortunately things get even worse. The EWG report points out that food stamp benefits are restricted to families below specified income levels, but there are no such limits on crop insurance subsidies. As a result, in a single year some 10,000 farmers earned more than $100K, while 26 pocketed more than a cool million! Unsurprisingly, a number of the beneficiaries are seated in Congress, and are actively pursuing for even larger, undisclosed handouts.
Yikes, Batman! I’m reminded of some observations Mark Twain made about Congress:
“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
“There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”
“All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.”
Robin, perhaps worst of all, we can’t bring these creeps to justice, because they create the laws. Unfortunately, our hands are tied. Only Tennessee’s voters can put criminal masterminds like Stephen Fincher out of commission.
Holy strawberries Batman! We're in a real jam! Let’s hope Tennesseans have the sense to do the right thing, by putting a lid on the Tea Party before it explodes and innocent children suffer!
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.