3 Government Wastes That Should Be Stopped Before ‘Food Stamp Fraud’

It’s no secret that conservatives don’t like food stamps. They’ll find just about any excuse to make a good program that feeds poor and hungry Americans seem like a wasteful exercise. The latest attack comes from the rightwing pundits at Fox News who want to scrap SNAP for being overwrought with fraud.

While it’s true that about $70 million of the money allocated towards food stamp is wasted due to fraud, it’s misleading to present that number without context. Altogether, the federal government spends $71 billion on food stamps. That means just 0.09 percent of the money is wasted. Put another way, fewer than 1 in 1,000 people on food stamps is abusing the system.

From that perspective, it doesn’t seem that wasteful at all. The notion that we should do away with food stamps altogether because of an insignificant amount of fraud is preposterous. On average, about 44 millions depend on this program to survive, and they don’t all deserve to lose this service because of some minor abuse.

If 0.09 percent is such a damning rate of error, I think I have a few other institutions the conservative media should worry about first:

1. The Pentagon Budget

Earlier this month, we found out that the Pentagon had buried its own investigation into its wasteful spending. The report revealed that the Pentagon was blowing $25 billion per year through gross mismanagement, but ultimately decided to keep this matter quiet so Congress wouldn’t use it as an excuse to cut its budget.

Crunching the numbers, that means that the Pentagon was wasting more than 4 percent of the Department of Defense’s $500 billion+ annual budget. That’s a way higher rate of money mismanagement than food stamp fraud – and a much higher amount of waste altogether, too.

2. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Informant Pay

The “war on drugs” has been a blight on America, but conservatives are still eager to continue waging this war anyway, perhaps because it is an excuse to disproportionately incarcerate this country’s black and brown populations.

It’s even more absurd when you look at how some of the money is spent fraudulently. A Department of Justice investigation found that the DEA was paying massive amounts of money to civilians who cooperated with authorities. The larger problem is that a lot of that money was still being paid out to previously deactivated, untrustworthy sources.

In a five year span, the report found that $9.4 million was paid to these sources that lacked credibility, several of whom had been proven of having given false testimony in past trials. Crunching the numbers with the DEA’s $2 billion annual budget, that means over 0.09 percent of its budget is going to pay known perjurers and drug traffickers for bogus information. Now that’s a real waste!

3. Capital Punishment

The money behind death penalty cases is extremely wasteful. Not only is a lot more expensive to execute someone than to sentence him or her to life in prison, but the money states pay on death penalty trials can cost six times more than other murder trials.

Forget the money for this particular example, though – how much error is too much error before we end a system that literally puts people to death? Research shows that about 4 percent of people put to death are actually innocent. That’s a way higher rate of mistake than food stamp waste, yet you don’t see conservatives advocating that the justice system stops killing people, do you?

None of these points are meant to say that the government shouldn’t take steps to ensure that food stamp fraud is minimized even further, but the notion that a program that feeds tens of millions needs to be dropped entirely because of a 0.09 percent waste rate is ridiculous.

The bottom line is that the rightwing media wants to portray food stamp recipients as undeserving cheaters. If their gripes were actually about how much money was being wasted, they’d be singling out some other programs first.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

90 comments

Sarah H
Sarah H7 months ago

Trump is setting into place policies that will address wasteful spending.

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Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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George L
George L8 months ago

thanks for posting!

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Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C8 months ago

tyfs

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Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T9 months ago

Thanks for the info

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Anne F
Anne F9 months ago

There are recommnedations we already know that should be implemented (including 4 day work weeks)

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Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C9 months ago

Thank you.

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Chen B
Chen Boon Fook9 months ago

Thank you

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Tim C
Tim C9 months ago

ty

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Patrice Z
Patrice Z9 months ago

Let's let our GOP Members of Congress know we are on to their hypocrisy.

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