JULY 31, 2012
As if it weren’t bad enough that a record number of people—46 million and growing—get food stamps from the U.S. government, a federal audit reveals that many who don’t qualify receive them under a special “broad-based” eligibility program that disregards income and asset requirements.
As a result American taxpayers are getting stuck with a multi-million-dollar tab to feed hundreds of thousands who can well afford to feed themselves. Here is the nutshell version of how it came to this; the Obama Administration has promoted food stamps like there’s no tomorrow, asserting that it’s the government’s duty to eradicate “food insecure households.”
In the last few years the administration has spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns to recruit more food-stamp recipients, even doling out hefty cash rewards to local governments that sign up the most people. One state even bragged about a $5 million performance bonus it got from the feds for its “swift processing of applications.”
As a result a record 46.3 million people—including some illegal immigrants—get taxpayer-funded food stamps at an annual cost of $76 billion, according to the agency that distributes the welfare benefit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This represents an increase of more than 16 million over the previous year, according to USDA figures. It’s only a matter of time before an out-of-control government program like this becomes infested with fraud and corruption.
A few months ago the USDA’s Inspector General revealed that many food-stamp recipients use their welfare benefit to buy drugs, weapons and other contraband from unscrupulous vendors. Some trade food stamps for reduced amounts of cash. The fraud has cost taxpayers nearly $200 million, according to the USDA watchdog, who provided various examples during testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Regardless, the administration keeps pouring money into the program. For instance in May it allocated $4 million to provide farmers’ markets not currently participating in the welfare plan with the wireless technology necessary to redeem the benefits. The idea is to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to low-income folks who would otherwise not be able to afford them. This is crucial because the feds claim the nation’s obesity epidemic has hit poor and ethnic minority communities hardest because they don’t have access to healthy foods.
This brings us back to the bulging food-stamp rolls. The previously mentioned federal audit, conducted by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that 473,000 households that received food stamps were not even eligible under federal standards. In one year alone this cost taxpayers about $460 million, according to the probe which suggests “improved oversight.”
Here is another enraging figure included in the GAO report; in the last decade the food stamp program has more than doubled and costs have quadrupled because the government has essentially encouraged states to disregard household income and asset limits required to qualify for the assistance. This is called “broad-based categorical eligibility.”
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