W. Packard: Simple cuts could save money

By changing a few rules governing the food stamp program, the cost could be cut considerably. I recommend:

Recipients could buy only fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products and bread. If the food is prepared in any way, it would not be eligible. If it is prepackaged in any way, recipients could not buy it. No chips, no soda, no sweets, no pizza, etc. Recipients could buy food only at a grocery store.

Those who don't go to work can, at least, cook their own free meals.

Recipients would not be allowed free cash from the EBT card for any reason, so no cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, drugs or Christmas presents. And no free cell phones.

Following my proposed rules would cut costs of the program significantly, as well as reduce medical costs associated with being obese and unhealthy.

I have to buy my own food. If the government gave me a food card that was used as I have described, I would jump in the air and clap my hands.

I bet those people who are getting today's free ride on the system won't like my suggestions because they think other people owe them something. Maybe they are used to eating lobster; they certainly don't eat like I do.

Warren Packard, Rumford

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Zack Lenhert's picture

"In fiscal year 2011, federal

"In fiscal year 2011, federal expenditures for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps)—$78 billion" http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43175

During fiscal year 2011, the federal government spent $3.6 trillion. $78 Billion is just over 2% of the budget.

To put this in perspective lets look at how much the Pentagon spends...
"The military budget of the United States during FY 2011 was approximately $740 billion in expenses for the Department of Defense, $141 billion for veteran expenses, and $48 billion in expenses for the Department of Homeland Security, for a total of $929 billion."

To borrow a word from some conservative commenters, the savings your trying to squeeze from food stamps are TRIVIAL.

Zack Lenhert's picture

EDIT...*you're trying to

EDIT...*you're trying to squeeze...

I hate that mistake.

Donald Irish's picture

Simple cuts

Maybe there could be a 10 year time limit review to get rid of some of the career moochers.

RONALD RIML's picture

Is there a 10 year time limit on hunger???

Perhaps we can review that also......

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Warren, I would go one-step

I would go one-step further and say the state should hand out boxes of prepackage, balanced, nutritious, low-cost meals that the state can negotiate bulk prices for purchasing.

Of course, the assumption here is that the State is competent enough to distribute the food cost effectively - maybe too much to ask however.

The recipient absolutely has no means to sell, transfer, or abuse EBT cards.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

One more thing, Warren. The

One more thing, Warren. The EBT program should be abandoned and resorted back to food stamps. Not fair? Embarrassing?, perhaps. Benjamin Franklin once said that the best way to lift a person out of poverty is to make that person uncomfortable in their poverty.

AL PELLETIER's picture

One more thing, Warren

Take a drug test.

Zack Lenhert's picture

...would probably cost more

...would probably cost more money than it would save.

Betty Davies's picture

Not so easy to cook from scratch in a homeless shelter...

Many people who are homeless wind up in shelters or temporary housing such as motel rooms. They have no way to refrigerate or cook food.

Also, I disagree with your description of desperately poor people as "getting a free ride." Many people who get EBT are elderly, disabled, or unable to find work. Avoiding starvation is not the same as getting a free ride.

Bad things do happen to good people. You yourself, or someone you care about, might one day be elderly, disabled, or unable to find a job that pays enough for rent+heat+food+medicine.

 's picture

Responses like Betty's ...

... are why discussions on this topic never go anywhere - except to throw more good money after bad. Betty and many others see only those folks who need government services, and the folks who want those services are invisible. The latter group has made a career and/or lifestyle choice to ride the wagon, because it's a lot easier than taking responsibility for yourself.

But whenever there's even a hint of pushing some of the moochers off the wagon, the hand-wringers start moaning in public: Oh, what about the elderly and disabled and job-challenged?

Betty Davies's picture

The discussion never seems to include hiring fraud preventers

Discussions about programs that help people in need often get overtaken by commenters who focus on people who "ride the wagon"--and give every evidence of wanting to slash the programs to ribbons. That would harm everyone who is genuinely ill, disabled, elderly, and/or unable to find work.

I would advocate for more careful investigation to make sure people should be on the programs in the first place, for example more social workers analyzing paperwork and making house visits to double-check on applicants and aid recipients, adding certain tests to the evaluations that are done for people applying for SSI, to make sure they're not faking disabilities, and so on.

I also advocate for ending corporate welfare, since any given millionaire fraudster is soaking up millions to billions of taxpayer dollars, while the average SSI fraudster is taking in a few thousand.

Zack Lenhert's picture

"Oh, what about the elderly

"Oh, what about the elderly and disabled and job-challenged?"

Well, what about them? The reasons that these programs are set up is to help these people. The cuts your proposing will disproportionately affect those that are legitimately on these programs.

And your response is..... Oh, well?

Nobody.. not Dems or Repubs... is for welfare abuse. Lets propose something to cut the abuse and and inefficiencies, not cuts to services that are depended on by those that need it most.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What are homeless people

What are homeless people doing on the EBT program?

RONALD RIML's picture

Why homeless when they can be living on the Pirate Ship....

and eating whatever they capture........

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hey, it's honest work and we

Hey, it's honest work and we take handouts from no one. Now, we may cut off a hand here and there, but that's another story...0O:-)

RONALD RIML's picture

Loot, Mayhem, Rape & Plunder.....

Almost as much fun as working for Government!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Rape is no longer

Rape is no longer practiced.
More fun than working for the government and we don't have to lie about what we do. Seems about the only ones required by law to tell the truth these days is defendants in court.

RONALD RIML's picture

If you believe 'Defendants in Court' tell the truth...

I have many and varied bridges to sell you.....

This from my own experience.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We no longer buy bridges.

We no longer buy bridges. They burn too easily.

Betty Davies's picture

Why would owning or renting a home be required?

A permanent address is not required. You can get benefits whether you live on the street, are staying in a shelter, or are living with family or friends on a temporary basis. As I understand it, the basic criterion is income.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Owning or renting a home was

Owning or renting a home was not mentioned in my post. EBT, if I'm not mistaken, is a debit card, presumably issued by a bank or some form of financial institution from an account set up by the card holder (homeless) and the institution. How does a person with no address establish that sort of relationship with a bank? How does that work?


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