It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.
Left on the cutting-room floor: On the fraud front, the following Dayton Daily News excerpt expands on the point made in the column about the widespread “loss” of food stamp cards, except that the headline doesn’t really require a question mark –
Is Ohio replacing food stamp cards being sold or traded for drugs?
More than 200,000 electronic food stamps annually replaced by Ohio
In the last two years, nearly 51,000 electronic food stamp cards were reported stolen or lost in the Miami Valley area, reflecting a larger statewide trend of Ohio annually replacing more than 200,000 cards to recipients.
Authorities said the extent of food stamp abuse and the financial impact in Ohio is unknown because the activity often goes undetected. But they fear the behavior is widespread, and say that many cards are being trafficked or misused, resulting in the waste of taxpayer dollars.
One of the 26,224 electronic food stamp cards reported lost or stolen in the Miami Valley area last year belonged to Timothy Slusher’s sister. Slusher, 31, of Dayton, told the Dayton Daily News he illegally sold his sister’s Electronic Benefit Transfer card, or food stamp card, to a small store in exchange for $120 in cash — a common method used to defraud the assistance program.
The state replaced 485,880 food stamp cards that were reported stolen or lost in 2009 and 2010, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Of these, about 50,950 belonged to residents in Butler, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties.
Ohio had 2.07 million active food stamp accounts in the last two years, including 211,275 in the five-county region. This translates into the state replacing one-quarter of EBT cards given to recipients.
… From January to April of this year, Ohio paid out about $986 million in food stamp reimbursements to grocery stores and other businesses that sell food products, according to the state. (Note: That’s an annual rate of just under $3 billion per year. — Ed.) On average, about 113,300 residents in Butler, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties received food stamp assistance each month in 2010.
That there is widespread fraud is drop-dead obvious. Do people using other forms of plastic (credit cards, debit cards, gift cards) lose 25% of such cards in any given year? Of course not. The guess here is that it’s less than 5%. So it would appear that over 20% of Food Stamp cards are being used for transactions not involving food. Multiply that against Ohio’s annual food stamp expenditure of almost $3 billion, and that’s $600 million or more lost to fraud — even before looking at people receiving food stamps who really shouldn’t be because the program’s eligibility requirements have become too loose, allowing those with adequate resources to get through bouts of unemployment to qualify.