If you plan on dropping stacks and making it rain at a strip club with your welfare debit card, you better do it soon. Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would force states to ban welfare debit cards from being able to withdraw money at liquor stores, strip clubs, and casinos. This issue was brought to light after several high-profile news stories came out over the past few years regarding use of tax payer dollars for substance abuse and gambling. Even though the House had an overwhelmingly high approval of the bill, it will probably not get passed through the Senate unless it’s bundled with other legislation covering broader welfare reform.
Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana weighs in saying that,
We have an obligation to root out any kind of fraud and abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars. At a time you want to insure that every federal program we have has proper integrity and the money is actually getting to needy families, to needy children, this is something we need to act upon
Even though the bill is heralded as a welcome change for some, many others feel as if this proposed legislation is a publicity ploy that will end up re appropriating stereotypes of lower class citizens into state legislation. Elizabeth Lower-Basch, an analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, said that,
This is another example of setting policies based on attention-grabbing news stories with little connection to the underlying reality and that are designed to reinforce the ‘unworthy poor’ stereotype. There’s no evidence that this is a widespread problem. And even when funds are withdrawn in those locations, it doesn’t mean that people are gambling away their benefits.
I believe social welfare is a great program, and necessary with the recent bout of economic turmoil our country has faced. Even though Lower-Basch brings up excellent points that this legislation will negatively reinforce the stereotype of America’s lower classes being fiscally irresponsible with federal money…but I gotta say, the whole reason why this legislation was created was because people were being fiscally irresponsible with federal money! Granted there is a level of tact necessary with legislation like this, particularly if a person on welfare works at a casino or a liquor store and has to withdraw money from their place of work, but for the most part this seems like a logical step in ensuring that tax payers’ dollars are not wasted.
Personally, I’m happy my drug dealer and favorite prostitute takes checks.