Maine governor says welfare benefits used at bars, strip clubs, smoke shops
AUGUSTA, Maine – People are using welfare cash benefits at bars and strip clubs in Maine even though it's prohibited, Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday as he continued to call for reforms to crack down on fraud and abuse.Now, an advocate for the cards tries to blur the issue by claiming that the number of fraudulent purchases (3,000 over three years) is a tiny fraction of the total EBT usage (roughly 85 transactions a month were for booze/smokes/etc. compared to 50K, or ~ 0.2%). There is some truth to that, except that we don't know how much money was spent on forbidden items.
LePage said there have been 3,000 Electronic Benefit Transfer card transactions made at shops in Maine that primarily sell cigarettes and tobacco products between 2011 and November 2013 and about 650 transactions at places that primarily sell alcohol, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
It's also beside the point. These cards are granted to folks with - allegedly - significant financial needs. They're supposed to be used to buy food and other essential items that would otherwise not be afforded by these needy families - and some people are abusing this generosity. Certainly, if there had only been a dozen or two instances in three years of abuse, that might be cost effective to ignore - but a thousand illicit uses a year needs to be stopped.
It's frustrating, it really is. The people that should be the most up-in-arms - the advocates for the very program - are defensive and making excuses. Rather than decrying the abuses of the system, they'd rather downplay it and sweep it under the rug - which, of course, means that it will continue to happen. The governor, rather than being supported, is being vilified for trying to stop abuses of the system.
Why, it's almost like they *want* folks dependent on the system!
That is all.
Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)