Republicans Now Want You To Have A Photo ID When Using Food Stamps

food-stamps-jesusRepublicans in Congress are proposing a new law that would require photo ID in order for recipients of food stamps to use their EBT cards. At first, this looks like another attempt by conservatives to harass the poor and marginalize them like recent voter ID laws have tried to do. Unlike voting, making the argument for public assistance being a right guaranteed under the Constitution would be a little more of a chore, and there are few things that conservative politicians like to do more than to demonize anyone who gets money from the government – unless it’s a corporation, of course.

Via the Huffington Post:

New legislation would require Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to show photo identification when they use their government-issued debit cards to buy food. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) introduced the SNAP Verify Act last week. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) offered a similar bill in January.

“This act seeks to protect those who truly need SNAP assistance, and ensures those who would defraud recipients and the U.S. taxpayer are unable,” Salmon said in a statement.

Salmon and other Republicans have pushed food stamp photo ID requirements in the past. They argue that photos would help reduce fraud by preventing SNAP recipients from selling their debit cards for cash. In a January report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates a 1.3 percent rate of trafficking in the $78 billion program. (Source)

If you think about it, it’s more of the same from Congressional Republicans. If you do the math, 1.3 percent of $78 billion is all of $1.014 billion, which may seem like a lot of money but it’s actually an insignificant amount of the annual federal budget. Yet, everyone has heard a variation of the story of how someone’s cousin’s neighbor’s ex-boyfriend’s sister trades their food stamps for drugs or cash. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, it’s just not a regular enough occurrence for us to worry about and the cost of implementation would likely offset any savings the program would see – but let’s never make the mistake of confusing Republican lawmakers with actual fiscal conservatism.

As I discussed in “6 Myths About Welfare Recipients Debunked,” legislation like this isn’t actually designed to create any kind of accountability or save money. What it is intended to do is say, “Hey! Look at all this welfare fraud!” and then once the law is passed, politicians can say “if welfare fraud wasn’t so bad, why did Congress have to pass a law to require ID when using food stamps?” See how that works? Exaggerate a problem, pass a law to deal with that inflated issue, and then go back to your constituents to crow about how you’re a bold lawmaker who tackled wasteful spending. After all, creating problems and then fixing the same almost non-existent issue is certainly a lot easier than tackling things that actually matter – like the growing unemployment rates in David Vitter’s home state of Louisiana. In case you’re wondering, those are mostly oilfield workers (many of which are conservatives) losing their jobs due to falling oil prices.

However, since Republicans are so insistent on photo IDs for people using food stamps and it has already been implemented in the liberal bastion of Massachusetts, let’s go ahead and support the idea on one condition. Let’s have an amendment added to the legislation that a photo ID on an EBT card suffices as proper ID for voting – in any state in the country. I’ll bet you Republicans drop that idea really quick.


Facebook comments

  • Jim Bean

    I can’t think of any other reason why liberals take up arms against any and every effort to manage fraud in government programs other than that they must be the ones primarily engaging in it. Protecting unlawful activity hardly falls into the ‘virtue’ category.


    I think your free food card should include your picture and a picture of your car just in case you forget and try to buy the filet mignon. That way the checker can deny you right on the spot.

    • FD Brian

      so you’re for government regulation now. Got it. Although I agree, let the federal government put your picture on the snap card as long as you can use that card as an ID to vote.

      • I-RIGHT-I

        We can’t do that. Too many illegal aliens and criminals have those cards. Try again.

      • FD Brian

        surely we can differentiate snap cards, or are you not the creative?

      • I-RIGHT-I

        I’m not that creative. My advice is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Not only that but I don’t think snap card holders should be allowed to vote anyway. Let’s face it, if a person doesn’t have enough snap to take care of themselves and their family they shouldn’t be voting.

      • FD Brian

        I take it you’re not a fan of the constitution or you just like to pick and choose which bill of rights and amendments you want to follow.

      • I-RIGHT-I

        That document is a living and breathing being or something like that accordeing to some people on the Left. It changes with the weather and with the whether or not somebody feels like following it. Once Obama gets his raggety az out of my House the next guy will be one of mine and I’ve already written several “memo” recommendations to him . One of those is if you don’t work you don’t eat. The other is if you don’t own property you’ve got no skin in the American game and you don’t get to vote. Easy peasy.

      • FD Brian

        I’m pretty sure you will never pass a constitutional amendment to remove voting rights from some people. I would invest your energy into creating meaningful change and do able change. The latter would simply be a waste of your time.

      • I-RIGHT-I

        Removing the cancer from the voting rolls would create meaningful change.

      • FD Brian

        that’s right, let’s just tear up that pesky old thing our country was founded on and let the rich decide everything for us.

      • I-RIGHT-I

        They changed the Constitution to let the losers (non property owners) vote, then they let the women vote, then they let the Blacks vote and it’s been “where are we going and why are we in this hand basket ever since. Our founders made it very clear. The US Constitution is a plan for good, honest, God Fearing people. It doesn’t work for any other kind of person. That’s why I always end with: “If you want a better country become better people.”

      • Southern Girl

        My husband and I had worked all of our teen and adult years providing for ourselves and our children. Our family business of over 20 years went belly up; we lost everything. Yes, I applied for FNS, Medicaid for our children, etc. We have both paid in our fair share of taxes. Hard times can fall on anyone at any given moment. Your ignorance on this topic is quite appauling!

      • I-RIGHT-I

        I’m sorry for your trouble. It should be clear to you from the context of the posts that I’m not talking about you. Please accept my apology if in deed you’re not a liar.

  • Wingsfan81

    I would bet, and probably be correct that corporate fraud would add up to WAY more than welfare/food stamp fraud. Funny how they never try to “fix” that.

    • Timray

      like Pelosi and the VISA card scandal? Maxine Waters and the stimulus package?

  • Avatar

    Click up vote if you think Jim Bean is a moron.