"Welfare Queens" and Fraud In Food Stamps? Joel Berg of NYCAAH Sets The Record Straight
The Wall Street Journal recently published an editorial by James Bovard on the increase in food stamps usage and the alleged incidence of crime and fraud that has come with it. Joel Berg, the executive director of New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), responds to Bovard's comments and sets the record straight on food stamp fraud.
Contrary to James Bovard’s statements, the federal SNAP Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) is in no way experiencing a crime wave. Fraud in the program, which is now delivered on electronic cards, is actually far lower today than in the 1980's, when paper stamps were still distributed. Furthermore, the number of people illegally using food stamp benefits has always been dwarfed by the number of low-income Americans eligible for assistance who choose not to apply because they don't want to be falsely labeled criminal by Bovard and his ilk.
It is ridiculous for Bovard to imply that the Administration is somehow pro-fraud because it wishes to end costly and ineffective programs in four states that obtain electronic finger prints from food stamps applicants. The Obama Administration and anti-hunger advocates are committed to reducing actual fraud in the system-not ideologically invented fraud. Bovard does not cite a single example of fraud which could have been prevented by finger imaging. Even worse, one of the examples he cites occurred in New York City, where the existing finger printing process did nothing to prevent employees from stealing tax dollars from the very agency that conducts finger printing. In fact, the 46 states that don't finger print applicants have lower program error rates than the four states that still do. The real waste is that four states spend millions of tax dollars on supposed fraud-detection systems that simply don't work.
SNAP encourages 44 million struggling Americans to provide for themselves and their families on the basis of merit-not fraud. Conservatives should support this opportunity rather than falsely portray the program’s positive outcomes."
See Bovard's article here.