As we noted the other day, unaccredited Kentucky doctor Rand Paul is using this farm bill debate as an opportunity to cement himself as the most annoying and disingenuous member of Congress via a slew of unrelated and/or dumb amendments that go nowhere and waste everyone’s time, but do allow Paul to release more self-righteous columns wanking about his stupid ideology. Food stamps, for example, are on the to-tweak list with this farm bill. The simple solution here would seem to be “don’t cut a goddamn cent from it,” but, well. You know. As of now the bill would cut $4 billion over ten years from SNAP by targeting “fraud.” Rand Paul’s amendment, which thankfully was killed, would have targeted “fraud” by… ending the program entirely and sending a little bit of cash to the states, who could use it to throw a Twizzler or two at the hobos a few times a year (or to simply fill their budget holes/offer corporate tax breaks, because no one’s accountable for shit anymore.)
“Fraud,” in terms of its political grandstanding use, is a favorite word of those who despise poor people and would like to make their lives more miserable. Think of that bankruptcy reform act in 2005, one of the most purely evil pieces of legislation passed in our lifetime, that was all sold on the basis of “fraud.” There were too many fraudsters out there — an EPIDEMIC of CROOKS! — maxing their credit cards out and then declaring Chapter 7 and having those debts forgiven and this HAD TO BE STOPPED AT ONCE. Now it’s nearly impossible for anyone to declare Chapter 7, dump debt, and restart, for whatever purpose — just as the credit card companies and banks had hoped it would be. “Fraud” is a nice little crime-fighty-sounding case to make when you’d rather not just say “we the creditors want to own you for life.”
Republicans will also use “Medicare fraud” to argue that Medicare should be destroyed. There is a not insignificant amount of fraud in Medicare. But it is not a cost-driver in the program. IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU NEED TO END MEDICARE AND GIVE COUPONS OUT AND WHATEVER. Besides, the Republicans always going on about FIGHTING FRAUD never quite put it together that, sure, we can do that, but it requires hiring more government employees and expanding federal offices, which is socialism.
Universal, accessible programs will always have some inefficiencies and certain determined individuals will find ways to get bennies for which they are not qualified. If you want the program to exist than you will live with this relatively minor trade-off. If you don’t want the program to exist, you will scream about FRAUD! all the time while insisting that you don’t hate the poor people that you hate.
Rand Paul’s strategy with food stamps, though, is more clever (for the first three seconds after you hear it until you realize what he’s up to.) A report came out — Tom Coburn put it together, maybe? — about how some rich people had managed to get food stamps through FRAUD, and that’s why it’s so necessary to add layers and layers of restrictions to SNAP. Or in Rand Paul’s case, it’s these few rich fraudsters on the rolls that necessitate *the end of the program* and a replacement of half-value blockgrants to the states, because… there is no corruption in state governments?
Ahead of the vote, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the amendment was not meant to turn a cold shoulder on the country’s poor — rather, it was meant to cut down on abuse of the food stamp program.
“Should you buy junk food on food stamps? Should you get to go to McDonald’s on foodstamps?” Paul asked. “It’s out of control. It’s not about helping those in need. It’s about being wise with the taxpayer dollars, it’s about being wise with the taxpayer dollars and not giving people $20,000 a year in food stamps. We need to give it only to people who can’t work, those who are in need, and those who are not able bodied. But we’re giving it to millionaires.”
Under Paul’s amendment, each state would be allowed to decide how to apportion funding to the block grant system as long as the respective states followed a specific formula. According to Paul’s office, $322 billion would be saved through the amendment.
Rand Paul, of course, does not really care about waste and fraud in safety net programs. His goal is not to “tidy them up.” He thinks these programs lead to a lifetime of dependency and decaying morals and people never learning to take personal responsibility. He longs for that day when poor people will be left completely on their own, at which point they can begin to develop Character. Any other excuses he makes when he inserts these amendments to destroy programs are works of FRAUD.