Taxpayers fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at a minimum of $80 billion a year. Turns out there’s very little sunshine on a program that has seen food stamps recipients increase by 50 percent over a three year period.
USDA doesn’t provide a breakdown for the amounts a store (or chain of stores) takes in from food stamps recipients.
The Washington Times said:
“Coinciding with lobbying by convenience stores, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program in conjunction with states, contends that disclosing how much each store authorized to accept benefits, known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), receives in taxpayer funds would amount to revealing trade secrets.”
If the word “secrets” used in conjunction with a taxpayer funded program bothers you, beware. You may be called a Tea Partier or worse.
There have been numerous incidents related to SNAP fraud, mostly discovered in response to a tip.
There was the state worker in Illinois who came up with three imaginary kids for her boyfriend and set him up with benefits. All fraudulent.
The Texas Watchdog blog discovered food stamps debit cards were used at vacation destinations in Florida and California.
The state of Colorado found that some SNAP beneficiaries were using welfare debit cards at strip joints.
Some state workers in Connecticut committed SNAP fraud and the governor fired them. Arbitration resulted in the workers getting their jobs back, one more example of the taxpayer having no representation when it comes to negotiating with public sector employees.
In White Plains (N.Y.), a high profile Democrat, the District Attorney, is being investigated over the matter of her housekeeper’s immigration status. The D.A. allegedly helped the housekeeper get government benefits.
Judicial Watch said in 2011 the USDA committed $5 million tax dollars to promote SNAP.
If you take a look at the requirements for food stamps eligibility, you’ll see there’s enough flexibility that, if you’re good at budget gimmickry, you’ll probably qualify.
Meanwhile, an associate editor at The Atlantic, has accused Republicans of waging war on food stamps. The editor is apparently unconcerned about accountability and transparency.
Adequate measures to detect and prevent fraud are almost nonexistent. Considering the eligibility rules, it’s obvious reform is needed.
Welfare should be reserved for those who truly need assistance, not for those who want to have a more comfortable lifestyle because politicians buy votes by increasing entitlements for both U.S. citizens and individuals who come here illegally because of the entitlements magnet.
In 2011 The News Herald (Mass.) said, "According to a USDA report in March, more than 8 percent of large and small stores — 210,000 in all — allowed people to cash in their benefits fraudulently."
When a store is caught in wrongdoing, the store is routinely not prevented from participating in the SNAP program. That is an indication the current administration doesn't hold accountability for the taxpayer in high regard.
Food stamp fraud rises along with participants, budget (The US Report)
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/June 25, 2012)