Food stamp fraud not something to be dismissed

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: August 26, 2013
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Bruenig and others note the rate of food stamp trafficking fraud is only 1.3 percent, although instances have increased 30 percent over previous norms. And the 1.3 percent rate isn't inconsequential, especially given rising food stamp participation.

Enrollment in the federal food stamp program has increased 70 percent since 2008. The program's costs have surged 41 percent since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Enrollment hit a record 47.8 million at the end of 2012. Much of that growth is due to relaxed eligibility standards and program expansion authorized by the 2009 federal “stimulus” bill.

Therefore, having 1.3 percent of the total wasted on welfare fraud translates into millions diverted from feeding the truly needy. Economist Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago has found increased government benefits, including food stamp expansion, have reduced the incentive for work because potential paychecks are less than the value of benefits lost upon gaining a job. Mulligan estimates half or more of the labor market depression can be linked to expanded government benefits.

Shrugging off food stamp fraud only makes that situation worse. To allow individuals to convert food stamp funds to other, potentially detrimental uses not only insults Americans' charitable nature, but opens the door for taxpayer funding of activities that are actually detrimental to society.

That is pointless and unnecessary. Food stamps should be used for one thing — food — or not used at all.

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