(and Destiny, Crystal, Bambi…) That’s the headline on this New York Post expose of the food stamp/TANF program in New York. Federal welfare spending has exploded under the Obama administration, now accounting for nearly as much as defense spending. The food stamp and TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, i.e., cash) programs are among the largest. EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards are issued to participants in these federal programs; EBT cards can be used to purchase food and other products under the food stamp program, and to obtain cash from ATMs under the TANF program. Not all ATMs will dispense cash to the user of an EBT card, but where establishments want to cater to recipients of TANF benefits, they may install EBT-enabled ATMs on their premises. This is what the Post investigated:
Welfare recipients took out cash at bars, liquor stores, X-rated video shops, hookah parlors and even strip clubs — where they presumably spent their taxpayer money on lap dances rather than diapers, a Post investigation found.
A database of 200 million Electronic Benefit Transfer records from January 2011 to July 2012, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information request, showed welfare recipients using their EBT cards to make dozens of cash withdrawals at ATMs inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.
The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which oversees the “cash assistance program,” even lists some of these welfare-ready ATMs on its Web site.
One EBT machine is stationed inside Club Eleven, an infamous Hunts Point jiggle joint known as much for its violent history as its girls in pink thongs. …
Club Heat, another Bronx strip club that dispenses EBT cash, is also no stranger to violence. A 33-year-old woman was fatally shot in the head outside the club in December 2011.
The Post explains how welfare recipients can use taxpayer money to pay for booze, cigarettes, drugs and strippers:
Welfare recipients receive food stamps and cash assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Both benefits are accessed through an EBT card, but only cash assistance — meant for housing, utilities and household necessities — can be accessed at ATMs.
A single-person household could receive a maximum $200 in monthly food stamps plus $158 in cash assistance. A family of four could get as much as $668 in food stamps and $433 in cash.
The food-stamp program prohibits the purchase of booze, tobacco and lottery tickets with an EBT card. But with the cash-assistance program, users can blow money on strippers or a six-pack and to tap welfare dollars from liquor stores, casinos and adult-oriented establishments.
The Post found dozens of pubs, nightclubs and tobacco shops where welfare dough was dispensed — and presumably spent.
All of this is apparently entirely legal. The government just doesn’t care that your money is being wasted:
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, signed by President Obama last February, requires states to prohibit sinful welfare spending by 2014. If they don’t, they’ll forfeit federal cash.
But so far, the State of New York is unimpressed:
State Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) passed a bill in his chamber in June that would outlaw welfare withdrawals at gambling dens, strip clubs and other venues of vice, but the measure is gathering dust in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
In the meantime, your tax dollars are being spent at Club Eleven:
And The Anchor:
And Blue Door Video, where the specialty is group gay sex in the basement. No photo of this one.
All of the above is being subsidized by taxpayers. Why? Because the federal government, and in this case the State of New York, just don’t care. It isn’t their money, so who cares if it is thrown away? The explosion in welfare spending that has occurred during the Age of Obama is a great place to start as we look for places to cut the federal budget.