TERRE HAUTE —
Waste and fraud in government programs should be rooted out vigilantly.
Legislation should fix a problem with a fitting solution, not punish the needy.
Those two objectives must guide an Indiana General Assembly committee studying a proposal to require food stamp recipients to show a photo ID when they go to the grocery store. The idea, pushed by Republican state legislators, will be reviewed this summer and fall by a committee of lawmakers and could wind up as a bill during the Legislature’s 2014 session. In their offseason study, Hoosier legislators should focus on facts, not exaggeration.
The commonly used term “food stamps” refers to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, created to keep poor people from going hungry. Today, a SNAP recipient is issued an electronic benefits card, similar to a bank debit card, and slides it through the checkout machine at a store. U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines currently require stores to treat SNAP recipients no differently than anyone else.
One of the primary reasons SNAP cardholders are handled equally goes to the heart of the program’s intent — feeding kids. Food-stamp benefits are assigned to families, not individuals. Requiring a photo ID could prevent children in a SNAP family from buying needed groceries. Also, the head of their household — as is the case with many low-income folks — may not possess a state-issued photo ID.
So, why would Indiana legislators try to impose a photo-ID requirement for food stamps after fellow Republicans in a dozen other states failed to enact similar measures? Reports of fraud incidents in a vast federal program understandably aggravate taxpayers. Those illegalities include SNAP cards being trafficked for cash, drugs and guns. The government has a responsibility to track down and prosecute those offenders.
But the vast majority of families receiving SNAP assistance are not scamming the system; the fraudulent use of food stamps is rare and decreasing, according to the USDA, from 4 percent in 1998 to 1 percent today. The ranks of the recipients have indeed grown, from 28 million Americans five years ago to 48 million now. The numbers are up in Indiana, too, from 100,000 recipients 15 years ago to 925,000 in 2013, or 14 percent of Hoosers.
There’s a valid reason for that growth — the recession. Fifteen years ago, the U.S. economy was surging. By contrast, more people lost jobs after the recession hit in 2007 than at any time since the 1930s. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office affirmed the key cause of the increase in SNAP participants was the recession of 2007-09 and the economy’s subsequent slow recovery. Twenty percent of the increase reflects a temporary rise in benefits triggered by the 2009 Recovery Act, which expires later this year. CBO projections call for SNAP’s growth to slow in coming years.
A photo-ID-for-food-stamps law would certainly carry a “hell-yeah” appeal at election time, characterized as an appropriate crackdown on what some believe is a growing legion of Americans expecting “something for nothing.”
That picture is inaccurate. Most households with kids receiving the average $130 monthly SNAP benefit (62 percent) included a working-age adult employed that month, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. More than 90 percent of federal food and health care assistance programs benefit the elderly, the center reported.
In other states, retail merchants (who also benefit from SNAP purchases) opposed photo ID laws because of the extra work their employees would incur. Indiana stores undoubtedly would share those concerns. Beyond that logistical worry, the greater fear is that Indiana could impose a law — under the guise of fraud prevention — that would have the unintended consequence of making it harder for needy families to buy food.
Photo IDs for food stamps a bad idea
TERRE HAUTE —
Waste and fraud in government programs should be rooted out vigilantly.
RONN MOTT: Cigars
Leaving Baesler’s Market the other day, making my round of errands, I started to re-light my cigar. It was left over from the day before and I did not place it in the humidor. It had gotten too dry, so I threw it into my garbage sack asking myself the question, “Why do I do this?” Well, I do it because I enjoy it.
TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: Changing attitudes demand GOP action
From all indications, the Republican Party’s legislative leadership will punt away in its next session the opportunity to make a good decision on behalf of all Hoosiers about placing a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 5, 2013
• Anarchy is in the ‘tea’ leaves
Editorial: Help us spread holiday cheer
The kind and generous people of the Wabash Valley are called upon often to help those less fortunate. We are proud to live an area where that call never goes unanswered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 4, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cats, Inc.
I suppose we should give her a cake and a candle, but she would be happier with a handful of “treats” you can find wherever you shop for groceries. I’m talking about the two-year anniversary of the first cat we adopted. If we had known there were going to be more, her name probably would have been different. She was Orange Crush, a small, bedraggled, starving, Golden Tabby female that wandered into our yard a little after Thanksgiving. She had been badly maltreated.
MS. TAKES: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of. Our friend, Bill, stopped by our table to offer holiday felicitations and the conversation turned, as it often does this time of year, to Christmas.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 3, 2013
• Prestige chosen over practicality
• Tea partiers love country, freedom
• Same old clowns
LIZ CIANCONE: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 3, 2013
Prestige chosen over practicality
Tea partiers love country, freedom
Same old clowns
EDITORIAL: For NESC, transparency best option
The five-member board of the Northeast School Corp. of Sullivan County is in the midst of tough times as it faces a difficult decision on the future of its schools, including Union High School in Dugger.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 2, 2013
‘Ask not …’: Living by the words we speak
MARK BENNETT: ABA’s record proves Bobby Leonard’s a legit Hall of Famer
Bobby Leonard symbolized the feisty competitive flair of the old ABA.
EDITORIAL: Preserving, improving our parks
Few amenities more greatly affect the quality of life in Terre Haute than its public parks.
FLASHPOINT: Getting right with history
I am ornery enough to never much worry about whether I am on the “right” side of history.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 1, 2013
The dangers of aggressive driving
Thanks to Lowe’s for great work
Another ‘Miracle’ set for Friday
Obama lies with malicious intent
Down the path to nowhere
Remembering to help needy
Jihadis, be careful what you wish for
Hanging on to people’s rights
No more trespassers thanks to mayor
RONN MOTT: Collett Park Christmas Walk always a special event
Since I live right across the street from Collett Park, I enjoy very much this particular neighborhood. And since I have walked around it a few times, I’m familiar with the 0.8 of a mile it takes to walk around the park. The Christmas Walk is a walk around the neighborhood. There were approximately 15 homes involved and open to the public this year
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
An expansion of county parks
A teacher, visionary and leader
Reader poll results
READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 29, 2013
Cooperation helps enhance security
RONN MOTT: Rule Changes
Watching the beginning of a new basketball season reminds me of my attempt to play basketball in high school. On the B-team, at a township high school my freshman and sophomore years, I fouled out of a great many basketball games.
EDITORIAL: To be solemn, reverent and grateful
Its label is “Thanksgiving.” As Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed this national holiday in 1863, this 24-hour period celebrates our blessings, to be “solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 28, 2013
Governor can put words into action
Editorial: Newspapers’ greatest day
Those who are limited in their news intake or gain most of their information from broadcast or Internet sources may be under the false impression that newspapers are a dying institution. They may believe that readers and advertisers have abandoned the traditional newspaper, be it print or digital, in favor of some other sort of news flow that relies on shallow streams of broadcast fluff or, even worse, social media.More astute observers of media trends and those who are discerning about the information they consume are quite aware that this newspaper doomsday scenario just ain’t so.
- Readers’ Forum: Nov. 27, 2013
RONN MOTT: A Hornet’s Nest
I seem to have kicked over a hornet’s nest in my criticism of the American health care system.
The basic fact of the matter is this: We do not have, in America, the highest-rated health care system. We are not in the top 10, nor top 20, but somewhere in the middle 30s. Yet we pay more for our health care than any other nation in the world.
LIZ CIANCONE: Mourning a death is a personal exercise
One does not properly “celebrate” an assassination, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to be reminded that there are a lot of nuts out there. Coverage this past week of the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination still has the power to disturb, but all the theories won’t undo the facts.
READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 26, 2013
• Include Wea in Terre Haute’s ‘Walk of Fame’
• You can pardon a holiday turkey
• Rebuffed by Bennett
READERS' FORUM: Nov. 25, 2013
• Bosma wrong on marriage debate
• Savings Bank was key event sponsor
EDITORIAL: ISU’s plan will help fuel positive developments
When it comes to long-term visions for improvements in Terre Haute, the involvement of Indiana State University typically means a project will happen. As its recent track record shows, ISU generally turns its plans into realities.
EDITORIAL: Tough, tedious, important work ahead for jail group
“What is a committee?” Mark Twain once asked. “A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.”
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- RONN MOTT: Cigars