Republican Congressman Darrell Issa is ready for a crackdown on food stamp use, complaining that he believes benefits are being used to purchase alcohol and drugs rather than for their intended use. Citing a comparison of reports issued regarding food stamp use, the California Republican claims, “[W]hen people walk in with $100 in food stamps and they trade it for alcohol or they trade it for cash to go use illicitly, children are being denied food that we, the American people put this program together for. It’s about families not about cash or alcohol for individuals.”
Does this mean the party of civil liberties and less government is ready to push forward on their plan to ensure all government assistance is spent on the “right” things? Earlier in February, the House passed a bill that would prohibit funds from pulled from ATMs located near strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos, based on the premise that those who need help from the government are probably shady, drunken gamblers who are mooching off the system. The bill never made it to Senate, but with culture wars playing out repeatedly on Congress’s floor, perhaps Issa is signalling a second go?
Much as the GOP has been demanding drug testing of welfare recipients in numerous states, the idea that a law needs to be passed to forbid ATMs at certain locations from allowing those on government assistance programs from taking out cash is little more than stigmatizing and shaming those who are in need. Especially unfortunate is the idea that a liquor store ATM would be unusable, since, in many poor neighborhoods when grocery stores are inaccessible, residents end up purchasing food at local convenient stores that often sell liquor as well.
Issa may be saying he’s peddling ending government waste and saving taxpayers, but really, he’s preparing for another round of blaming the poor and painting them as morally lacking simply because they can’t make ends meet.
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