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Not surprisingly, food stamp fraud is not relegated to aid recipients or retailers but extends to government employees charged with administering the program. Those cases include four employees of New York City’s Human Resources Administration arrested in 2011 for creating over 1,000 fake food-stamp cases over four years that netted them $7 million; and nine workers at Milwaukee’s County Enrollment Services Center accused of scamming almost $300,000 from the program from 2005 to 2010.
Yet, the Obama administration seems far less interested in preventing fraud and waste and more concerned about boosting food-stamp enrollment, given its stated belief that the SNAP program is “severely underutilized” by claiming that more than 33 percent of Americans are eligible to receive food stamps but have yet to apply.
To that end, it has vigorously funded multi-million-dollar federal initiative campaigns to promote participation in the SNAP program by, among other things, further relaxing food stamp eligibility requirements.
Specifically, the USDA has given millions of dollars of cash rewards to state and local governments as well as $75,000 grants to private non-profit organizations so they could develop projects that “simplify SNAP application and eligibility systems” and raise the amount of food stamp participants.
One of the recent winners in this initiative was the state of Oregon, which received $5 million in “performance bonuses” for its swift processing of applications, efforts which has seen the state achieve a 60% boost in the number of food-stamp recipients, more than 780,000 people.
For its achievement, Oregon was given a two-year grant to test an “innovative approach” to the food-stamp “client eligibility review process,” which grants state officials a waiver that allows them to grant the food stamp benefit without actually interviewing the applicant.
Of course, the efforts by the Obama administration to create a new dependent class neatly dovetails with its overall efforts to create an expanding welfare state, efforts which have seen the Obama administration since 2009 increase spending by 41 percent on the nearly 80 federal welfare programs that provide food assistance, housing, education services, child care, and medical care.
Those expenditures, which now stand at $668 billion, coupled with another $284 billion in state and local government expenditures, bring the total cost to nearly $1 trillion, making Welfare the fastest growing part of government spending with aggregate costs projected to reach over $1.5 trillion in 2022.
Those staggering outlays led Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation at a House Budget Committee hearing to say Obama’s massive expansion of welfare-related programs are leading to “ruinous and unsustainable future budget deficits,” adding “Food Stamps are a symbol of that growth.”
Of course, the Obama administration takes a different view. As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in August 2011, food stamps are part of the Obama administration’s jobs program, noting “When you talk about the SNAP program or the food stamp program, you have to recognize that it’s also an economic stimulus… If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.”
Given that logic, the record number of Americans now receiving food stamps must certainly indicate that economic prosperity is nearly at hand.
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