SNAP Decision

By Bill Maher

Over the past few years we’ve seen plenty of stories about state legislators trying to stop so-called “poor” people from using their EBT cards at casinos, bingo parlors, dog tracks liquor stores and strip clubs. The presumption is that lazy something-for-nothings are spending their taxpayer-funded cash assistance benefits on things like liquor, gambling, cigarettes, booze and lap dances. 

Why, if we could just cut down on this waste, fraud and abuse, we could build that border wall and have enough left over to repair the infrastructure!  Well, a Florida NBC station (NBC2) did an exhaustive study to determine where people were spending money from the state’s Temporary Cash Assistance program, “which provides short-term cash benefits to families with children under the age of 18…as well as pregnant women during their last trimester,” and they found that between 2009 and 2011 nearly $191,000 was withdrawn from ATMs at bad places like dog tracks, bingo parlors, strip clubs and liquor stores. Gasp!

So, 191 grand over about two and a half years – that’s about $76,000 a year, or less than .1 percent of all transactions over the period of the study. Not one percent – point one percent. So, one out of every thousand dollars is going to Captain Morgan instead of Cap’n Crunch. No system is perfect.

Now AOL News is reporting, “If [Tennessee] state Representative Sheila Butt gets her way, a newly proposed bill would ban families using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from buying unhealthy groceries. Specifically, foods high in calories, sugar and fat like ice cream and soda. The idea is that people will become overweight on the government's bill.”

And I have to say… I agree. (Record scratch). If you earn your own money, spend it on candy, spend it on a stripper named Candy – I don’t care. But if we, out of the goodness of our hearts, are going to pool our collective money and feed the hungry – as we should – then I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you don’t spend it on lottery scratchers, Orange Crush and Little Debbie cakes. If you’re going to accept a loan from me that you don’t have to pay back, then I get to insist it’s spent responsibly. Because I’ll be paying for your insulin and heart-valve stent too.