by Dan Mitchell
I’ve commented many times about wasteful government spending, including Social Security bureaucrats spending $700 thousand to party at a luxury resort, HUD bureaucrats giving huge subsidies for welfare recipients to live in upscale neighborhoods, rampant fraud in the unemployment insurance program, and tax dollars being used to subsidize a grown man wearing diapers and living as an “adult baby.”
Those are depressing examples, but here are three additional stories that may be even worse. They all show how entitlement programs squander other people’s money.
1. A local news outlet in Oregon revealed that recipients can use food stamps to buy luxury products:
Oregon Trail Cards — which are part of the state’s food stamp program — can be used to purchase luxury coffee concoctions at Starbucks counters inside grocery stores, investigators from Fox 12 in Oregon have discovered. …According to federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) guidelines, people cannot buy foods that will be eaten in the store or hot foods. However, luxury items that are allowed include soft drinks, candy, cookies, ice cream, even bakery cakes and energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label.
2. Benjamin Domenech of the Heartland Institute reports that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on penis pumps:
According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare has spent more than $240 million of taxpayer money on penis pumps for elderly men over the past decade, and will surpass a quarter of a billion dollars this year for costs since 2001. The cost to taxpayers for the pumps more than quadrupled during that period… And these represent only the costs for external devices, technically classified as “Male Vacuum Erection Systems,” not implantable devices or oral drugs such as Viagra.”
3. A Seattle TV station has an expose about a woman receiving various forms of welfare even though she lives in a million-dollar home.
Search warrant documents unsealed Friday in federal court reveal that she received more than $1,200 a month in public housing vouchers, plus monthly cash from the federal and state government for a disability, as well as food stamps. Property records show the woman lives in a 2,500 square-foot home, with gardens and a boat dock, that is valued at $1.2 million. Records show she has received welfare benefits while living in the plush home since 2003. Records also show she truthfully provided her address when she applied for benefits.
These are the stories that I keep in mind every time I hear some politician whining that “spending has been cut to the bone” and higher taxes are needed.
P.S. I’m happy to report that American taxpayers were not victimized by the all-time record for the most absurd example of government waste, which took place when British taxpayers financed sex trips to Amsterdam for welfare recipients.