June 19 2014
National Review, The Corner
Jillian Kay Melchior
Public benefits fraud costs Maine taxpayers an estimated $3.7 million a year — but both the federal government and the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature have pushed back against welfare-reform efforts. It may come back to haunt them, as the Associated Press reports:
A new website created by the Maine Republican Party slams several incumbent Democratic candidates for their votes last session on proposals such as requiring welfare applicants to search for jobs before they can receive benefits.
… Republicans, who are hoping to regain majorities in the House and Senate in November, say they will continue to highlight what they see as Democrats’ failures to enact safeguards against fraud and abuse in the system that takes resources away from those who truly need it.
“Democratic politicians are on the wrong side of the welfare reform issue, and it’s important that Mainers know where they stand,” Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett said in a statement.
I wrote recently about the welfare-reform fight in Maryland after interviewing the state’s Department of Health and Human Services commissioner, Mary Mayhew. At the time, the federal government was pushing back hard against a simple pilot program that would include a photo ID on electronic benefits cards, part of an effort to ensure that welfare benefits were being used only by those who had been approved for them.
“It was nonsensical that [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] would be opposing the use of a voluntary pilot program in Maine,” she said at the time. “We’re extremely perplexed by the reaction from the federal government given that it is, in fact, permissible to put photos on the EBT cards. We would have expected that [the USDA] would be grateful that we are implementing [the program] in this manner to ensure that beneficiaries are experiencing a smooth transition to the new photo-ID card.”
The state’s Democrats have also voted down proposed legislation that would have scaled back the use of welfare cash on booze, tobacco, gambling, strippers and bail.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.