Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member on the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee and James McGovern (MA-3), co-Chair of the Hunger Caucus in the House of Representatives, responded to the allegations of fraud in the Food Stamp Program, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) made today by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrel Issa.
In his testimony before the committee, Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the USDA, detailed the new range of aggressive tactics the agency is taking to prevent fraud. He explained that USDA takes has reduced the SNAP trafficking rate from 4 cents on the dollar in 1993 to about 1 cent in 2006-2008. USDA reviewed over 15,000 stores in FY2011. This is one of the lowest fraud rates for federal programs; in fact, the improper payment rates for some farm programs are much higher. USDA has permanently disqualified more than 45,000 individual retailers from participating in the program.
"The fact of the matter is that the food stamp program is a vital anti-hunger program that works, and it has an incredibly low fraud rate. Let me be clear that no fraud is acceptable. However, I wonder why a program with a low fraud rate that makes a difference for millions of poor families every day is the one the Committee decided to focus on. This is yet another attempt by the House majority party to discredit the food stamp program with the intention of casting this valuable, efficient program and the people who depend on it in a negative light," said Congresswoman DeLauro. "These attacks ignore the years of Republican economic policies that crashed the economy, massive tax cuts, and costs of two wars. More Americans enrolled in food stamps under President Bush, and with surging unemployment in the months before President Obama took office, people continued to turn to safety net programs like food stamps to get by during the recession."
"Another day, another Republican assault on low-income families. The SNAP program serves as a lifeline for millions of Americans, especially children," said Congressman McGovern. "While we should always be on the lookout for ways to improve the program, I wish my Republican colleagues would spend half as much time looking for waste and fraud in the Pentagon budget as they do targeting programs that help the most vulnerable among us."