Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cruel and Unusual

Just when you thought that no one could outdo the GOP psychopaths in Washington D.C., Republicans in Minnesota show they're up to the challenge:

Subd. 1. EBT debit card. Paragraph (a) prohibits EBT cardholders in the GA, MSA, and MFIP programs from withdrawing cash from an ATM or receiving cash from vendors with the EBT debit card. Limits the use of EBT cards to use as a debit card.

Paragraph (b) requires cash benefits for programs listed under paragraph (a) to be issued on a separate EBT card with the head of household's name printed on the card. Requires the card to state that it is unlawful to purchase tobacco products or alcoholic beverages with the card. Requires the card to be issued within 30 days of an eligibility determination. Allows recipients to have benefits issued on a card without a name printed on the card during the initial 30 days of eligibility. Specifies that the temporary card does not need to meet the requirements of this section.

Paragraph (c) allows EBT cardholders to opt to have up to $20 per month accessible via ATM.

Subd. 2. Photo identification. Prohibits retailers from accepting an EBT card as payment without also seeing a photo identification card.

Subd. 3. Prohibited purchases. Prohibits EBT cardholders in programs listed under subdivision 1 from using their EBT card to purchase tobacco products and alcoholic beverages. Prohibits retailers from accepting EBT cards for payment for these products. Requires DHS to impose a civil penalty of up to an unspecified amount on retailers who violate this section.

This proposed legislation seeks quite openly to deny any freedom or dignity to those people (all of whom are very poor) who receive federal or state assistance. The photo I.D. requirement is extremely insulting. If one poor person has the good fortune to get a little help from family or a charity, they may not allow another poor person to take advantage of unused EBT credit to buy some food. That would be wrong!

The $20 cash/debit-card monthly limit is even more troubling. Not every store, doctor's office, or utility company is equipped to handle EBT transactions. Why not force a poor person to walk an extra couple of miles for that loaf of bread?

Here's what I mean by a denial of "freedom or dignity." Imagine a poor single mom has managed, through fantastic luck and sacrifice, to have $40 left in benefits at the end of the month. She'd like to buy her son a birthday present that is not an approved EBT purchase. The present would cost $35 after tax. Can't buy it, sorry. That freedom, to scrimp and save in order to bring a smile to her son's face, is for some reason offensive to Minnesota Republicans. They are saying to her, in so many words, "you are too poor to make your own choices. Your kid doesn't need that toy truck, buy him a couple of frozen pizzas!"

Stories like this one make it hard to keep fighting. But fight we must, or all compassion and decency will perish from this earth.


cranstonista said...

Thanks for calling this to our attention, Ulysses. I sure hope this never becomes law!

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