American legislators, especially, conservatives are making it their mission to win the imaginary war on food stamp fraud.
A problem, much like voter fraud, that simply isn’t a real problem.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, food stamp fraud has actually been cut by three-quarters over the past 15 years and the small amount of fraud that does happen is usually on the part of retailers, not consumers. And yet, the steak and lobster myth prevails. You’ve heard it, a friend of a friend was totally in line at the grocery store and saw someone buying steak and lobster with FOOD STAMPS!!!
But, that hasn’t stopped Wisconsin legislators from attempting to shame the poor even more. In May of this year, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed Bill 177 which seeks to put even more restrictions on what those on nutritional assistance can buy. Aside from requiring that at least 67% of the items purchased are on the approved list of foods, it seeks to prohibit the use of benefits to purchase crab, lobster, shrimp, or any other shellfish.
Which makes very little sense when you break it down.
For one, most grocery stores already make it impossible for scanned items that are not allowed by the federal food assistance guidelines to be purchased with the debit cards issued to participants.
Second, most recipients receive less than 7 dollars a day, hardly enough to be “living large” on filet mignon and king crab.
And some of the other guidelines are just ludicrous, like the proposed cheese restrictions that would make mild cheddar cheese an approved food but sharp cheddar would not be allowed.
Fun fact for politicians in the cheese state….there is literally no nutritional difference between sharp and mild cheddar cheese.It’s simply an indicator of taste.
But, Wisconsin isn’t the only state putting time, effort and tax payer dollars into pointless legislation that is part of the GOP pastime of shaming the poor.
Kansas has legislation in the works that seeks to ban using welfare benefits in places like casinos, tattoo parlors, lingerie shops, psychics, video arcades, cruise ships and “sexually oriented Businesses.”
You know, because our economy would just perk right back up if those darn freeloaders would stop buying lap dances with their food stamps.
The worst part is, this is all just theatrics because food stamp benefits are funded by the federal government. Wisconsin and Kansas will need to obtain a federal waiver in order to impose restrictions on food purchases.
And guess what?
No state has received such a waiver.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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