New welfare restrictions target booze, tattoos.

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#1
With a handy pic of what a welfare recipient might look like.

BOSTON (AP) — Taking aim at what they call an abuse of the taxpayers' money, a growing number of states are blocking welfare recipients from spending their benefits on booze, cigarettes, lottery tickets, casino gambling, tattoos and strippers.

"If you're not abusing the program, then you should really have no problem with these reforms," said state Rep. Shaunna O'Connell, a Republican pushing for restrictions in Massachusetts.
While the crackdown has strong populist appeal in Democratic and GOP states alike in this era of tight budgets and tea party demands for fiscal discipline, advocates for the poor argue that the restrictions are based on stereotypes about people on welfare, and they say the notion of any widespread abuse is a myth. Most people on public assistance, they contend, are single mothers struggling just to get by.
The movement has been spurred in part by Congress. Under legislation signed by President Barack Obama in February to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, welfare recipients are barred from using their cash assistance in strip clubs, casinos and liquor stores. States must change their own laws to conform by 2014.
From Arizona to Maine, states have been going even further on their own, adopting or considering legislation to block the use of benefits for other items deemed frivolous. Among them: porn, cruises and psychic readings.
In the past 12 years, at least 10 states passed laws restricting welfare purchases, three of them this year, while at least 14 others are proposing similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Around 4.4 million people received about $30 billion in cash assistance in fiscal year 2011 through the federal-state welfare program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. States set their own eligibility requirements. (An estimated 44.7 million people received food stamps, and that program has long barred people from using their benefits to buy anything other than certain foods.)
Welfare recipients are issued their benefits via Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards, which can be used like debit cards to buy things or to withdraw cash from ATMs. Some states have barred the use of the cards to buy certain prohibited products; others have banned cash purchases of such items, too.
But cash transactions are all but impossible to police. To make it more difficult for welfare recipients to withdraw cash and spend it on banned items, states such as California and Washington have reprogrammed ATMs inside certain businesses to automatically reject welfare benefit cards.
Depending on the state, welfare recipients who violate the rules can face jail time, the loss of their benefits and fines ranging from $25 in Washington to $2,000 in Maine. Merchants can be fined or lose their business licenses. Some of the states that have joined the trend say they have no figures yet on violations.
Supporters of the stricter laws have seized on media investigations that have uncovered potential abuses.
California, for example, enacted laws to prohibit ATM withdrawals at liquor stores, strip clubs and gambling establishments following a 2010 investigation by the Los Angeles Times that found that $1.8 million in welfare benefits had been taken out of cash machines at California casinos over an eight-month period.
But Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy analyst for the Center for Law and Social Policy, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, said the regulations reflect "people's preconceived notions and stereotypes of low-income people." She said poor people have hardly any money left over for things like alcohol or tattoos after they pay for necessities.
New York lawmakers have proposed barring spending on alcohol, strip clubs, cruise ships and psychics. "It's a slap in the face to people who are on public assistance and are trying to get off, when others abuse the system," said state Sen. Thomas Libous, a Republican.
Ann Valdez of Brooklyn's Coney Island section said it's "crazy" for the government to be dictating where people spend their assistance instead of creating living-wage jobs. She said she struggles just to cover toiletries, clothing and other expenses for herself and her 13-year-old son on the $120 she receives every two weeks.
"I don't know one person who uses their EBT money to buy liquor or anything like that," Valdez said.
Washington state lawmakers have prohibited purchases of tattoos, body piercings, alcohol and tobacco. Bars, bail bond agencies, gambling establishments and strip clubs are also now required to deactivate the ability of their ATMs to accept benefit cards. Colorado and Indiana have banned alcohol, guns and gambling.
Lawmakers in New Hampshire are calling for tighter restrictions after Jackie Whiton, a Peterborough store clerk, was fired in May for turning away a customer who tried to legally buy cigarettes with a benefits card. "I could not sit back and watch it happen," she said.
Christopher Borges, a New Hampshire resident, defended his and other welfare recipients' ability to buy cigarettes in a July 7 editorial submitted to the Concord Monitor newspaper.
"Why do people who are sick or unemployed need to justify their spending habits, simply because they are in receipt of support from their community (transferred via the government in the form of cash)?" he wrote. He did not respond to requests for comment.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers are considering banning card purchases of tattoos, pornography and guns. The proposal would also prohibit spending at nail salons, jewelry stores and casinos. Welfare recipients in the state are already barred from using their cards to buy lottery tickets, tobacco and alcohol. Pennsylvania legislators are calling for sweeping restrictions as well.
Philadelphia resident Lisa Crawford, who receives $375 a month in benefits for herself and her 11-year-old son, said using public assistance at strip clubs and liquor stores is "abusive." But otherwise, she said, "I think you should be accountable for your living situation and should be able to buy what you want as long as your main bills are taken care of."
Crawford, who has been going on job interviews, said nail or hair salons shouldn't be put off limits, in part because job-seekers must look presentable: "Luxuries can also help you in the workforce."
http://news.yahoo.com/welfare-restrictions-target-booze-tattoos-193649971.html?_esi=1
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#2
Didn't know you could take out cash with them... the Maine ones you can only buy food... but not prepared food (like the roasted chickens they sell at the supermarket)...
 

CougarHunter

Lying causes cat piss smell.
Mar 2, 2006
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#3
There as absolutely no valid reason to allow those kind of purchases. It seems like a no-brainer.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
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#5
Dayum! This wasn't supposed to happen in the age of Barack. Wat next...I gots ta prove I am who I say I am when I go vote?
 

mascan42

Registered User
Aug 26, 2002
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#7
advocates for the poor argue that the restrictions are based on stereotypes about people on welfare, and they say the notion of any widespread abuse is a myth
This fucking astounds me. Can they actually be saying that we shouldn't go after the people who are abusing the system because it makes the rest of the people on welfare look bad?
 

UrsusHorribilis

Registered User
May 2, 2006
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#8
Welfare should only be redeemable in "gruel". There--I've said it.
 

Begbie

Wackbag Generalissimo
Jul 21, 2003
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#12
"If you're not abusing the program, then you should really have no problem with these reforms," said state Rep. Shaunna O'Connell, a Republican pushing for restrictions in Massachusetts.
That's really the jist of it, now isn't it? Why are you bitching about this if you've been playing by the rules all along? It shouldn't apply to you....so shut the fuck up.

Ann Valdez of Brooklyn's Coney Island section said it's "crazy" for the government to be dictating where people spend their assistance instead of creating living-wage jobs. She said she struggles just to cover toiletries, clothing and other expenses for herself and her 13-year-old son on the $120 she receives every two weeks.
Ooo! I love the living wage! What is it supposed to be nowadays?? $12/hr? $13/hr? Good luck with that sista.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#13
That's really the jist of it, now isn't it? Why are you bitching about this if you've been playing by the rules all along? It shouldn't apply to you....so shut the fuck up.



Ooo! I love the living wage! What is it supposed to be nowadays?? $12/hr? $13/hr? Good luck with that sista.
Need to remove the previous formatting when you copy and paste (Highlight text and hit the AAs with the red X over them). Can't see it on the black skin.

Speaking of which, is there a way to set the default to the old editing system? The new one is a pain in the ass.
 
Mar 2, 2005
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chicago
#14
see here the clerk scans everything then you swipe your "link card" and it only applies payment to authorized items. so then your smokes , booze, condoms, and other "non essentials" will come up as payment due
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#16
see here the clerk scans everything then you swipe your "link card" and it only applies payment to authorized items. so then your smokes , booze, condoms, and other "non essentials" will come up as payment due
In California there's a second type of balance you can get on your EBT card that's a "cash" balance, which can be spent on anything you want. It's like another tier of assistance.

Cool, thanks.
 

Josh_R

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Jan 29, 2005
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#17
[video=youtube;NzspsovNvII]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzspsovNvII[/video]
 

Don the Radio Guy

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In California there's a second type of balance you can get on your EBT card that's a "cash" balance, which can be spent on anything you want. It's like another tier of assistance.
That's the case everywhere. It's called Temporary Aid for Needy Families, and is the successor to the old "welfare check" that used to come on the 1st and 15th. It will be impossible to enforce these types of laws, because the cards can be used at any ATM machine to take out cash. The only thing they could do is cancel benefits if someone is caught using that cash on these items, but that's impossible to even begin to investigate and enforce. Just like people who want food stamps to only be usable for healthy foods. It's feel good shit that only makes the problem worse.

If you want to stop people from using tax dollars to buy drugs and booze, STOP GIVING PEOPLE MONEY TO DO NOTHING.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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I'm pretty sure what I was talking about is different than basic welfare, but I could be mistaken. I only know because a friend manages a take-n-bake pizza place which takes food stamp money, but won't accept that second balance.

Also, how can they justify food stamp funds carrying over? If you're not using them every month, doesn't that mean you don't need them? He said he's seen balances in excess of $2000.
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#20
Make it so they don't work on ATMs, is that so hard? If you can't buy it with the card you shouldn't be buying it.
 

Madness

Registered User
Dec 9, 2004
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#21
If you want to be really enraged. They issued double food stamps to people in Ohio because of the storms and the power being out for so long. Because those of us that work didn't have to replace all of our shit or anything like that.
 

Ego

The Only Thing Bigger Than My Head
Feb 15, 2005
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#22
They'll go to Walmart, buy a candy bar on their ebt cash, and take all opportunities to get cash back. $100, $100, $100. Rinse and repeat. And they get pissy with us if we don't have the cash in our registers to accomodate them at all hours of the day.
 

Stig

Making America So Great You Won't Believe It.
Jul 26, 2005
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#23
If you buy a tattoo with tax dollars it should be cut outta you with a dull knife.