Food Stamp Nation

“Millionaires are now legally entitled to collect food stamps as long as they have little or no monthly income. Thirty-five states have abolished asset tests for most food-stamp recipients. These and similar ‘paperwork reduction’ reforms advocated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are turning the food-stamp program into a magnet for abuses and absurdities,” notes James Bovard in The Wall Street Journal. As he points out,

The number of food-stamp recipients has soared to 44 million from 26 million in 2007, and costs have more than doubled to $77 billion from $33 billion . . . Wisconsin food-stamp recipients routinely sell their benefit cards on Facebook . . . ‘nearly 2,000 recipients claimed they lost their card six or more times in 2010 and requested replacements.’ USDA rules require that lost cards be speedily replaced . . . Thirty percent of the inmates in the Polk County, Iowa, jail were collecting food stamps that were being sent to their non-jail mailing addresses in 2009 . . . The Obama administration is responding by cracking down on state governments’ antifraud measures. The administration is seeking to compel California, New York and Texas to cease requiring food-stamp applicants to provide finger images. The food-stamp poster boy of 2011 is 59-year-old Leroy Fick. After Mr. Fick won a $2 million lottery jackpot, the Michigan Department of Human Services ruled he could continue receiving food stamps . . . ‘the winnings were considered ‘assets’ [rather than income] and aren’t counted in determining food stamp eligibility.’ Decades after liberals derided Ronald Reagan’s reference to a Cadillac-driving ‘welfare queen’ Obama administration policies could easily permit Trust Fund Babies driving Rolls Royces to get free food courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Sadly, this sort of thing is nothing new for the Obama administration. The stimulus package backed by Obama largely repealed welfare reform, as Slate’s Mickey Kaus and the Heritage Foundation have noted. Obama ran campaign ads claiming to support welfare reform, even though he had actually fought against meaningful welfare reform as an Illinois legislator. This claim was as dishonest as his claim that he would enact a “net spending cut” (which he flouted as soon as he took office) and that America would undergo an “irreversible decline” if the stimulus package wasn’t enacted (when even the CBO admitted that the stimulus will actually shrink the economy over the long run). The stimulus package gave priority to welfare and social spending, rather than infrastructure, in response to complaints by liberal activists that fixing roads and bridges would put unemployed blue-collar men to work, rather than women.