Life is hard enough as it is for people on food stamps.
It's a matter of survival for the 46 million or so recipients across America, yet they are under constant scrutiny from politicians who stigmatize poor people and condescendingly tell them how they should spend their stamps.
To make matters worse, the program itself, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is continually under threat of being terminated because of how costly it is for taxpayers.
Now, a New York state senator is seeking to tighten the screws even more on the ol' stamps for food program in his home state with a proposed law that would see poor people unable to use food stamps in casinos, strip clubs, and liquor stores.
"Spending SNAP benefits on cigarettes and alcohol, or gambling and strip clubs, serves no purpose to help ease a family's hardship, nor is it the best use of our limited taxpayer dollars," Senator Joseph Griffo (R-Rome) said in a press release referring to the bill which contains the the following restrictions:
A SNAP recipient's EBT card also may not be used for transactions at the following: (1) a liquor store, or any other store where 50 percent or more of its business comes from the sale of alcoholic beverages; (2) a gambling or gaming facility; (3) a strip club; and (4) a tobacco specialty store.
Sen. Griffo proposed the bill in order to cut down on all of the taxpayer dollars being thrown at wasteful, fraudulent poor people. "[T]hese funds are most effective only when they are spent with good intentions, and all across the state we see daily examples of waste, fraud and abuse of the system," Griffo said.
The press release does not present a single specific example of SNAP fraud or waste to support the proposed legislation, but it goes on to state that the ultimate goal of the bill is to "encourage these recipients to wisely spend their benefits in ways that support them and their families, while also keeping them focused on the goal of finding employment that will allow them to once again become self-reliant."
And while these intentions seem pure, the bill also proposes unprecedented penalties for non-compliance. A first violation would result in benefits terminated for the adult recipient while a second violation would lead to benefits being terminated for the recipient and their entire family unit.
The controversial bill is not without critics either. "It is unnecessary and covered under federal law, and only serves to stigmatize poor and needy people," Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told Syracuse.com, referring to the existing federal framework to deal with SNAP fraud and violations. "We are not going to take food away from hungry people, which is the only thing this bill would accomplish."