Wednesday night, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R.3567; The Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011; which makes it illegal to use an EBT card in a strip club, liquor store or casino. The concern began, shortly after welfare recipients were issued funds electronically through ATMs, when Welfare Reform passed in 1996. Since then there has been a disturbing trend of welfare not being spent on the things people think welfare should be spent on.
And I don’t understand that concern. It is the theory of most Democrats that giving money to people stimulates the economy. It should be of no concern to anyone whether that money is used to stimulate patrons of a strip club, liquor store owners, or casino magnates (who BTW are often HUGE political contributors).
The bill is almost completely futile. It won't insure that welfare money is not spent at a strip club; it only means that the ATM at the gas station across the street from the strip club is going to see a lot more traffic.
This is just the kind of government bias, that gives legitimate business a bad name. Certainly those girls are working as hard as any SEIU employee; whose pensions were paid out of stimulus funds, while they protested in Wisconsin. Money spent on bikini wax, cover stick, and glittery lingerie will trickle down through the economy just like any other stimulus package.
If that money was earmarked for scientific research on the anthropological roots of exotic dancing and its impact on global warming; or if it were an NEA grant to promote the American Folk legacy of lap dancing, there would be no question whether taxpayer money should eventually find its way into a g-string. The welfare recipient should not be punished, since he is actually a victim of a public education system, that did not teach him how to write a proper grant proposal.
Meanwhile, spending money at a casino is no less risky than "investing" in green energy. At the rate subsidized industries like Solyndra and Ener1 have been flying down tubes, a crap shot seems like a much more conservative measure than putting half a billion on Solyndra to win.
And what is wrong with using an EBT card at a liquor store? What the bill effectively does, is limit the amount of ATMs in poor neighborhoods. Many ATMs are privately owned, and grocery stores in poor neighborhoods won't want to file the paperwork (and campaign contributions) necessary to prove they're not a "liquor store.” Even if they are a liquor store, there are plenty of legitimate State Approved items available in liquor stores, like tomato juice, citrus, and Lotto tickets. I might add that most grocery stores not only sell cigarettes and liquor, they sell all the ingredients necessary to make meth. There are a lot of things more intoxicating than liquor, one of them being congressional power
Because, ultimately, what business is it of the government to decide which decisions are made? In this country, we've decided that poor people should get free money. There is no way the government can absolutely ensure it isn't spent on stupid things. (In many cases, it is those same stupid things that caused recipients to be on welfare on the first place.) And does the government have any moral authority in the first place? They can't even prevent themselves from spending it on stupid things. Which is why we’re 16 trillion dollars in debt.
I think we need a Congressional Budget Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2012.