Food Stamps Invite Fraud, Government Dependence

EBT Cards/ Food Stamps file photo (AP)

We in the Tea Party Movement hear it all the time: “Conservatives don’t care about poor people!” It’s a baseless accusation that when challenged, almost always devolves into a discussion over Mitt Romney’s wealth, the Koch Brothers or, the left’s favorite, “You’re just a bunch of racists!”

However, if the left ever took a breath and tried to understand our support for free market principles, they would see that we are the greatest champions of the lower class. We believe in small businesses and workers who ought to keep more of their paycheck for themselves. We believe in America’s founding economic principles that created a superpower from a startup nation in under a century. We believe in the individual and that big government is the greatest obstacle standing in the way of success for many Americans.

The food stamp program in America is entirely out of control. What started off as a modest expense with the noblest of intentions has become a money-devouring system engulfed by fraud and waste.

The idea that the federal government ought to pay for food for the poor sounds noble. In theory, it should help those who have fallen on hard times through a difficult period until they can get back on their feet. The reality of this program, however, is far different.

An estimated 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps- that is nearly 1 in 7 Americans. The program’s cost has increased over 100% since Obama took office and America spent $81 billion on the program last year. The program cost $19.8 billion in 2000.

Worse yet, Obama has worked to ensure that programs that were designed to function as a hand up now function as handouts. Aside from an active recruiting campaign to encourage food stamp enrollment, Obama’s attempt to waive the work requirement no longer keeps idle, able-bodied adults off the government dole.

Almost as disturbing as this trend of increasing government dependence is the fierce opposition from Democrats over cutting a nickel from government waste. While Obama shutters the White House to punish America for having the audacity to hold him to his promise of cutting a measly 2.4% from expected government expenses, the government is spending more and more on food stamps and any calls by fiscal conservatives to rein in the spending are met with ferocious opposition from tax-and-spend liberal legislators.

Further, not only are taxpayers paying more and more each year for food stamps, but the prevalence of fraud in the system has reached ludicrous proportions. Millions are committing food stamp fraud each year and the government does virtually nothing to stop it.

Food stamp users are forbidden from buying certain items with their EBT cards, including tobacco or alcohol. They are also not allowed to receive cash back from their purchases, but stores are frequently violating these rules. When and if the government catches on, the establishment is no longer allowed to accept food stamps, but since there is virtually no enforcement of the policy, stores simply reapply and are allowed to participate in the food stamp program again. If they get caught again, they just reapply and the whole cycle begins anew.

Last year, Representative Darrell Issa noted that out of 4,600 establishments that had been barred from the program, 1,500 continued to accept food stamps at a cost of over $750 million to the taxpayers.

Those who defend the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), too-often defend the idea behind it. The left promotes many myths to justify the continuation of the welfare state. They claim that without food stamps, people would starve. These are the same people who also claim that Americans eat too much.

Furthermore, such arguments fly directly in the face of the history of civilization; since the dawn of time, mankind has worked to procure food for survival and has done just fine. In the last fifty years, a mythical notion that mankind would be lost without big government has taken hold in liberal dogma and it’s just not true.

So, I return to the classic liberal myth: “Conservatives don’t care about poor people.” Not so. In fact, we care so much that we dedicate our energy not to advocating for the providing of the proverbial free fish, but advocate an investment in learning how to fish.

The food stamp program has grown to be a burdensome expense that invites fraud and incentivizes becoming a government-dependent invalid. Democrats bolster the welfare state, dangling “free” goodies to create dependency upon the government and, while that may be good for the Democrats who promise a big government dedicated to handouts, it does nothing to help the economy recover and creates a dependent for taxpayers to feed.

When we add in the substantial prevalence of fraud within the system, we see that our tax dollars are being spent to encourage economic immobility, encourage fraud, or both.

 

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