Modest reform to state welfare program prompts outsized reaction

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: April 2, 2013
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War on the poor.

This is how a lawmaker characterizes an effort to reduce welfare fraud. What seems to us to be a war on fraud is viewed by Rep. Richard Morrissette as a “systemic, consistent war on the least among us ...”

What Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, fails to take into account is that the safety net protecting the poor is best maintained by “systemic, consistent” efforts to ensure that welfare fraud doesn't become a war on taxpayers. In the larger picture, the safety net championed by Barack Obama and fellow travelers of The Great Divider is under threat not from conservative Republicans but from their own refusal to accept entitlement reform. Without this, the safety net will collapse under its own weight.

State Senate Bill 456 offers something that might help prevent benefits from going to wrong people in the wrong way. It simply changes the way suspicions of welfare fraud are reported to the Department of Human Services. Fraud allegations now require identification of the person reporting a suspicion of fraud. SB 456 would allow anonymous reports. This is a modest change in a time when people communicate anonymously on the Internet thousands of times a minute.

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