An estimated 46 million Americans receive food stamps every month. With the economy largely on people’s minds and talk of budget deficits widespread, some people are looking to the food stamp system to fight fraud and save costs.
Fighting Welfare Fraud
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) costs taxpaying Americans $89 billion a year, and the number continues to rise. There are many people who absolutely need that help in order to feed their family. But with 1 in 7 Americans making use of the program and the eligibility requirements generous, there are many who are abusing the system. There is no extra money to be throwing around in our government at this time, so many people are looking to cut overspending wherever they can.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senator Jeff Sessions questions the tactics put in place to combat food stamp fraud. ” I have a responsibility on behalf of taxpayers to hold federal agencies accountable for how public funds are being spent. I would therefore ask that the Committee be immediately provided with a thorough explanation of all oversight actions your Department is taking, as well as a list of recommended federal reforms that would reduce waste, inefficiency, and abuse in the food stamp program. I would further ask for a follow-up report within the next sixty days detailing the findings of all oversight that USDA will have conducted….Unmonitored welfare programs, over time, can hurt the very people we are seeking to help. Our goal is not only to improve the outlook for our indebted Treasury, but to help needy Americans achieve a better future through work and personal development.” (1)
Drug Tests for Food Stamps
Sessions, Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, is not alone in his regards. It is becoming more and more evident that too many people are misusing the system and trading their food stamps for drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. One only has to spend time in low income areas to see how many illegal transactions involve food stamps and how the cards even have going rates on the streets.
That’s why some states are now testing welfare recipients for drugs prior to giving them their assistance. As Senator Michael Watson of Mississippi said, “Our system is abused. Across the state, lawmakers have big hearts and truly want to help people, but we want to help people who also want to help themselves. To the people who are taking advantage of our generosity and hardworking Mississippian’s tax dollars, we want to say no more,” Watson said. “The folks that can work, need to get a job and stop taking advantage of our system.” (2)
While there is much controversy over the issue, most people would agree that taxpayer money in the form of food stamps should not be used to fund a drug addict’s habit or business. There must be a way to better regulate the assistance and to direct those who are abusing drugs to treatment or rehab.