Stop Scapegoating The Poor Please!
Once again a politician, setting themselves up for higher office, goes to the ‘kick a poor person’ playbook to build some conservative cred. Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, who likes to kick things conservatives like to kick — public education, for example, — is now setting his sights on the low hanging fruit of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — better known as food stamps. Yost has a funny idea of fraud that fails to match reality.
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost will testify before House Agriculture Committee about errors in the food stamp program Wednesday morning.
In a recently released audit, Yost found $31,000 in questionable costs.
“We can do better,” he said.
The audit found 36 cases where recipients received about $24,000 in benefits a year after they died, including benefits used by dead people.
Nearly $29 million was spent outside of Ohio, indicating that those recipients don’t live in Ohio or that they’re selling cards and benefits.
Yost said the payments were unacceptable and undermine a program that aims to feed the hungry.
Wow! This looks really bad, right?
This is yet another non-issue raised by people who hate poor people.
1.7 million Ohioans received SNAP funds, in 2014, and 824,231 in 2015 and Yost is bitching about 1000 cases that can be cleared up without messing with other poor people who aren’t getting “too much”.
Jon Keeling, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services which administers the food stamp program, said Yost’s report implies fraud is occurring but many things noted “aren’t necessarily fraud.” The report also identified about $31,000 in “questionable costs,” including benefits used by “dead people” and duplicate payments to some recipients.
“The questionable costs found by this audit constitute just 0.0012 percent of the total cost of the program. It’s even less than the cost of the audit itself,” Keeling said in statement. The auditor’s office billed the department $48,000.
“Our agency takes its responsibilities very seriously and we fully and faithfully implement our programs under the rules set in place by the federal government. We’ve taken strong steps to fight fraud and abuse, and we’ll continue using innovative solutions to protect taxpayer dollars.”
Yost acknowledged “the findings show that it is not widespread. It is a relatively small percentage. The trouble is the program is so big, even a small percentage of problem has a big price tag.”
People getting SNAP benefits have to reapply each year and they get a 6 month review as well. If there is actual fraud it will be found but it isn’t done instantly. Humans make mistakes so there is a process to go through to remove benefits — a due process that we come to expect from the government. That’s a good thing.
Yost reported millions being spent out of state and assumes something fishy. A more reasonable look might show that many older Ohioans winter in Florida but still are eligible for food stamps. The audit was over the first six months of 2015 so snow birds in Florida would not be too far out of reason.
For people having large balances on their cards, the reasonable explanation is that since SNAP is “Supplemental” the people in question didn’t need the funds or didn’t use them all at once. The current rule is the balance rolls over to the next month and as long as you use your benefits at least once a year you can only lose them if you aren’t eligible. People aren’t forced to use them.
The other thing to consider is that balances are funds not yet spent. Technically that money hasn’t been spent by the recipient so it can’t be fraud unless the person obtained or used the funds illegally. Investigate those individuals where there might be a question, but don’t take it out on all people on public assistance.
You lack basic humanity when you are like Dave Yost and think poor people don’t deserve the help they get and want to make it harder to be poor to score some cheap political points.
Originally published at Doug’s Views.