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EBT cardholders use cash withdrawals to buy weed in Colorado


(NaturalNews) At first glance glance, this title and its main source article render the impression that thousands of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants in Colorado are starving themselves to get their weed. That's next to impossible for SNAP (formerly foods stamp) beneficiaries. But they're not the only EBT card users.

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. Another government assistance program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also uses these EBT cards. It's a debit card that's automatically preloaded monthly according to the amount to which any beneficiary is entitled according to state guidelines. Whatever isn't used is simply rolled over with each new monthly allotment.

Unlike SNAP, TANF was set up with the rule that needy families could use EBT cards to legally "buy anything" or get cash from ATMs.

SNAP EBT card use is monitored by most scanning cashiers with codes that automatically block non-food items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies, pharmaceuticals (prescribed or over-the-counter) and tobacco; food items not allowed include supplements, foods eaten in the store, hot foods ready to eat and food to take out that's heated in the store.

But that wasn't originally the case with the EBT cards setup for TANF, because it was legal until mid-2012/2013 to buy anything. After coming to the attention of politicians looking for easy popular issues to stir, federal mandates made using TANF purchases of alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets and adult entertainment facility purchases illegal.

But the Republican Colorado politicos justifiably feel that the same tax-funded TANF federal money, facilitated by EBT cards, should also exclude the now-legal weed stores, although some apparently sell food too.

Much ado about nothing, comparatively

Maine recently set up federal rules prohibiting TANF recipients from withdrawing money or using the cards at certain places, including casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs. Nevertheless, buying similar items outside those locations or getting ATM cash to buy them anywhere left some gaps.

But questionable transactions in Maine represented about three-tenths of 1 percent of all TANF purchases and withdrawals in 2012 and 2013. So once again, opposing politicians took the easy issue road of attacking welfare to grandstand. Maybe they should focus on bigger rotten fish that offer black holes for federal funds.

Start with the federal military budget and its dispersal procedures that are duplicated by any other federal or state agency. If the budgetary allotment for any fiscal period is not spent, the budget gets reduced according to what was spent.

This author was confronted with a real government spending issue while serving on an older WWII diesel-electric submarine out of Key West, Florida, during the mid-1960s. The supply officer was in a panic. He had two days to spend $10,000 (1960 money) or lose that much out of the next quarterly budget.

After he was informed of a pricy item that could be purchased quickly, he authorized the immediate purchase of 10 large radar "firing tubes" at a thousand bucks each. The submarine had one radar, and it only required one firing tube, which very rarely expired.

The boat (that's what the old subs were called) had three or four in storage already, somewhere. Now it would be 13 or 14 tubes hidden in various locations, of which maybe one would be required in the future. That could be considered wasteful, right?

That was a small example of typical government wasteful spending, which if extrapolated to include all military and government agencies, including the CDC, amounts to bilking taxpayers millions more than welfare recipients could muster.

Then there's that pesky corporate welfare issue, which includes EPA and local cleanup costs of abandoned messes. Those expenses continue in perpetuity. Fraud at the top is the big op that usually goes unnoticed, while blowhard politicians aim at the lower classes.

Sources for this article include:

Primary source:

Maine report:

SNAP restrictions (pages 8-9):
http://www.fns.usda.gov [PDF]

Defense budget:

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