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Fox News makes a big deal out of a tiny increase in food stamp fraud

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THIS comes as no great surprise:

Fox News misleadingly hyped a minor rise in food stamp fraud in an attempt to demonize the program, failing to note it has one of the lowest fraud rates of all federal programs, fraud remains at historically low levels, and the slight increase in fraud reflects an increase in overall enrollment in food supplement initiatives.

On August 15, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new report on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, which found that benefit trafficking — “when SNAP recipients sell their benefits for cash to food retailers, often at a discount” — had risen slightly from 1.0 percent of total SNAP benefits in 2006-2008 to just 1.3 percent in 2009-2011.

Co-host Brian Kilmeade [above] hyped this minor difference on the August 19 edition of Fox & Friends, focusing on the change in fraud levels while failing to report how little fraud was found in the program:

KILMEADE: 30 percent. That’s how many more Americans, according to a new study, are selling food stamps for cash illegally. No, Steve, that’s not legal. Nearly 48 million people receive food stamps. The program costs $80 billion a year.

In fact, according to the USDA, SNAP benefit trafficking has “remained relatively steady at approximately one cent on the dollar,” and the program “continues to have one of the lowest fraud rates for Federal programs.” Furthermore, rates of trafficking have declined since the 90s and the current rate of trafficking remains near historic lows…

The USDA also noted that the rise is partly due to the increased number of small and medium-sized businesses which are authorized to accept SNAP benefits, as small retailers accounted for 85 percent of the fraudulent redemptions identified.

The USDA has taken steps to decrease the small amount of SNAP benefit fraud, including permanently disqualifying over 1000 retailers that engaged in trafficking, suspending retailers suspected of serious fraud, more frequently reviewing high-risk retailers, and cracking down on fraud online.

Kilmeade’s misleading report is just another example of how Fox News has shamelessly misrepresented the SNAP program and its beneficiaries in an effort to demonize food assistance and malign low-income Americans.

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10 Comments

  1. So 800 million dollars in fraud each year is nothing to worry about?

    And this program is one of the shining example of a low rate of fraud for a federal program?

    I feel so much better now.

  2. Dan McCullough

    I’m just trying to get my new email address in the “Email*” box above this “Comment” box, so I don’t have to keep changing it from my former email address that keeps showing up.

    Thanks for your (hopefully) understanding and patience.

    Respectfully,
    :-) Dan Mac

  3. Dan McCullough

    I see that I was successful in my endeavor. Thanks!

    :-) Dan Mac

  4. Hey expdoc: contrast that with the billions of dollars of waste and fraud inherent in the military/industrial complex worshipped by the wingnuts. I don’t hear anyone clamoring to get rid of our pigs-at-the-trough military spending issue. I’ll take a tiny bit of fraud in a program that feeds people over the shameless defense budget any day.

  5. sparkey

    Hey Doc, I just read on Forbes.com that there is $48 billion in medicare and medicaid fraud by your upstanding medical profession. Another shining example of a low rate of fraud for a federal program. Physician heal thyself. I feel so much better now.

  6. exp, do you have the same outrage about our tax dollars going to Egypt in the form of foreign aid, so they in turn can buy products from our military industrial complex? You know, that MIC that Eisenhower warned us about.

    Is this what foreign aid was put in place for? I wonder how many American tax payers know this is what our tax dollars is going to prop up?

    How about fixing some of our infrastructure before we hand out to other countries who in turn just use the money to buy weaponry? Weaponry that could easily be turned against us. I wonder if the MIC even care about that or is profit their only goal?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/egyptian-military-aid_n_3780435.html

    PS – That newscaster looks like a younger Karen Black in male drag.

  7. Hey Sparkey,

    Guess what, most Medicare/Medicaid fraud isn’t committed by physicians. But even so, it should also be a target for fraud reduction, just like the food stamp program and yes, the Department of Defense budget too.

    http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647849.pdf

    According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, dishonest hospitals and medical facilities are the leading concerns of health care fraud investigations. In civil cases, hospitals were the most frequently investigated subjects, making up 20 percent of the 2,399 subjects, slightly more than medical facilities—defined as medical centers, clinics and practices—at 18 percent. For all health care civil fraud cases, about 61 percent of the subjects investigated were organizations and not individuals affiliated with those entities. According to the report, physicians represented only 12 percent of the civil health care fraud suspects.

  8. sparkey

    Thanks Doc, at 12% that’s only $5.76 billion dollars in fraud by physicians, I’m feeling better every minute.

  9. sparkey

    Hey Doc, I feel so good I should pay you for your services, do you take medicare?

  10. Sparkey,

    As a physician I could not be more pleased that you are feeling better.

    As a hospital based physician I essentially have no choice but to accept Medicare.

    You make me feel better too by proving my point. The government, despite apparently serious efforts is unable to control waste and fraud, and yet were are turning over about 1/7th of the economy (in healthcare) to the very same people.

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