Editorial

Improper food stamp payments quietly continue to increase

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Did you hear that the Department of Agriculture spent $4 billion in improper food stamp payments last year?

Now granted, itís just a measly $4 billion overpayment in a $63 billion budget for food stamps. Thatís just a little over six percent of the total food stamp budget in incorrect payments of your tax dollars.

But donít be shocked if you havenít heard of this multi-billion mistake.

Weíre much too consumed with kids in cages, Stormy Daniels and the ever-popular Russian collusion to take notice of a paltry $4 billion snafu.

Through a combination of government human error and incorrect information supplied by food stamp recipients, $4 billion of your taxes were wasted.

The USDA was quick to point out that the improper payments do not always reflect fraud on the part of food stamp recipients.

So if the feds want us to fully understand the improper payments were not fraud, then we are left to chalk up this massive and expensive mistake to sloppy human error on those who calculate the benefits.

Either way, the American taxpayer is left on the hook for a sizable amount of cash.

The national food stamp error rate is six percent, but some states - Delaware leads the pack - have an error rate on their SNAP payments of almost 14 percent.

If you assumed that under a new administration we finally have a handle on fraud and human error in these payments, you would be wrong.

The last time similar data was shared was 2014. Overpayments then were only $2.6 billion.

In other words, the ďhuman errorĒ rate along with fraud is increasing.

The feds have a somewhat sophisticate way to calculate which states are overpaying food stamp users. And there is a process to penalize those states where errors are high.

But the calculations do little to halt the taxpayer abuse. And the overpayments keep growing.

Iíd be willing to bet you havenít heard of this costly error. And some of that is our fault.

We as a society have simply come to accept certain levels of fraud and abuse, human error and sloppiness. When the feds deal in trillions, a few billion here and there seems almost acceptable.

But of course, itís not acceptable. Nor sustainable.

If a business overpaid six percent of their vendors, that business would be broke.

If these mistakes are indeed human error, get new humans. If these mistakes are the result of fraud, implement strong penalties.

And if these mistakes are the blame of elected officials who ignore issues because they are unpopular to address, then we need new elected officials.

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