Posted in: Opinion

Food Stamps For Porn, Booze, And Guns? MA Republicans Fear EBT Fraud

food stamp abuse 2013

Can Massachusetts residents use food stamps for porn, booze, and guns? While no hard data suggests that’s the case, Republican lawmakers in the state are concerned that lack of strong controls to prevent such a circumstance means that America’s poorest people are having a good time on the taxpayers’ dime — and call for stricter lockdowns.

Like many GOP ideas about the poor, the panic about using food stamps for alcohol, pornography or guns seems to have been cut from whole cloth — or more likely, the ideas many have about the fantasy of poverty (Cadillacs and food stamp filet mignon) versus the overwhelming reality (a struggling family or single family working one or more jobs without a living wage.)

While several massive corporations use a series of generous rich-guy loopholes to get billions in refunds without paying any taxes in, Republican lawmakers again choose to turn their ire to the very, very poor and suggest that while you toil away, they are using food stamps for beer, cigarettes and weaponry. Or at least they could be.

Listen to Massachusetts State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton), who seems to believe that while the very poor lack the drive to bootstrap it up out of poverty, they are capable of chicanery and fraud. O’Connell dreamed up a welfare queen fantasy of where she thinks people making poverty-level wages spend their dough, feeding in again to the old, disproven myth that welfare fraud is a bigger problem than, oh, I don’t know, kids living with food insecurity.

O’Connell promoted the yarn of food stamps used for luxury goods as well as ink and flashy manicures, leaping from “can be” to what sounds like the assumption that Massachusetts’ poor are out getting drunk and tattooed based on no more evidence than it’s not prevented by restricting access to cash:

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way … What we can do is stop these stores and businesses from accepting these cards if they sell alcohol or tattoos or are nail salons. The single biggest issue is the cash access, that people can still get cash.”

food stamps

The Boston Herald explains that while there isn’t really evidence food stamps can be used for booze, tattoos, nails or guns, many Republicans are het up over the idea it could conceivably happen. Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz explains:

“The technology that we’re using with Xerox allows us to block usage by the store. It does not, at least currently, have the ability to block individual purchases at the store level … As the technology continues to change with the vendor, we will do everything we can to ensure that we continue to address the issue.”

And while the engineers of the global financial crisis swim in the spoils of their ill-gotten gains like Scrooge McDuck, Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) is personally worried that someone making $19,000 a year might be “abusing” their few hundred bucks a month for something they don’t deserve and didn’t earn:

“It just means it’s going to be abused until they modify the system … Switching to a product verification system that can verify products purchased and then eliminating the cash withdrawal system is the way to go.”

Given the reaction received each time The Inquisitr runs an article centering on food stamps used for porn, alcohol, or other non-essential things, one might assume that the lion’s share of America’s money is going to feed poor people. Did you catch this clip, below, which re-circulated recently on social media sites about how America’s wealth is being misappropriated?

Worth a watch. Do you think the US is being bankrupted by misuse of food stamps, or is it something else?

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