The GOP has increased its efforts to limit welfare spending recently, resulting in legislation such as the reformation of long-term unemployment benefits currently underway in Congress.
One Republican Senator, Louisiana’s David Vitter, recently introduced legislation that would require food stamp recipients to show photo identification every time they use their EBT card (essentially a debit card for food stamps) to purchase food.
“Using a photo ID is standard in many day-to-day transactions, and most of those are not exclusively paid for by the taxpayer dollars. Food stamps have more than doubled in cost since 2008 and continue to grow in an unsustainable way,” Vitter said in a press release surrounding the bill.
A major flaw in Sen. Vitter’s plan is the difficulty for many food stamp recipients in obtaining valid photo identification. The bureaucratic red tape involved with obtaining an ID is extensive, as individuals need money in addition to other documents such as birth certificates and social security cards in order to obtain an ID. For many homeless or impoverished individuals that have been receiving food stamp benefits for a lengthy period of time, gathering these documents can be difficult. Obtaining an ID is especially difficult for ex-prison inmates, many of whom have their IDs taken from them upon arriving at the jail. Of course, the application federal food stamp benefits requires similar proof of identification, but a myriad of problems can arise after SNAP benefits are secured.
Deborah Weinstein, the executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, explained the significant toll Sen. Vitter’s law would have on many food stamp recipients.
“Many poor people do not have photo IDs, and it costs money they do not have to get them. Senator Vitter’s proposal will be especially tough on elderly and poor people who do not have the documents needed to get their photo ID, and who will struggle even to get to the necessary offices. They will wind up going without food,” Weinstein told the Times-Picayune.
Vitter’s law was proposed as a solution to stop fraud from occurring within the federal food stamp program, and to establish accountability for those receiving the benefits.