Gov. Deval Patrick Vetoes Bipartisan Bill that Would Prohibit EBT Card Fraud and Abuse

In Massachusetts people can purchase guns, porn, jewelry, get a manicure, or get a tattoo with an EBT card (i.e. food stamps). Understandably, this upsets some Massachusetts residents and the state legislature passed a bipartisan bill which would prohibit use of EBT cards for these non-food related items. You would think that such a common sense reform embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike would easily be signed into law regardless of the party affiliation of the governor but you would be wrong.

Chris Cassidy for The Boston Globe reports:

In a veto statement yesterday, [Gov. Deval] Patrick slammed his reform-intent rivals for “political grandstanding” with their efforts to ban EBT buys of guns, porn, tattoos, jewelry and manicures, insisting reforms were already on track without the Legislature’s meddling. That drew return fire from irate lawmakers.

“A lot of people in the Legislature, and a lot of taxpayers for that matter, believe there are a lot of problems with our EBT system,” said state Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). “Some of us have worked hard to try to address those problems. Some of us actually take our jobs seriously, and to be accused of political grandstanding, I think it’s irresponsible and immature of the governor to speak that way.”


Patrick denied he’s opposed to EBT reforms.

“Nobody is more concerned about fraud than we are,” Patrick said at a press conference yesterday.

His veto rejected bans on the use of EBT cards for tattoos, guns, porn, body piercings, jewelry, fines and bail. However, he left standing bans of the use of EBT cards in tattoo parlors, gun shops, casinos, cruise ships, strip clubs and adult entertainment centers, saying the independent EBT Card Commission had ruled out the idea of banning specific products “for reasons of feasibility, enforceability (and) cost.”

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s put aside whether or not government at any level should give food stamps to those who would otherwise have difficulty feeding their families. Can we not all agree, whether your Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Communist, Nihilist, or whatever, that if the state has determined that taxpayers will help the needy via food stamps or EBT cards that at the very least the recipients of these cards buy FOOD with them rather than guns, porn, jewelry, body piercings, manicures, or tattoos?

Gov. Patrick, this shouldn’t be a difficult issue. You say that banning specific products from being purchased with food stamps is problematic but let me suggest one simple answer: limit the purchases to food only.

Really, how hard was that?

  • Christopher Tozzo

    This is exactly why I support banning anyone over the age of 65 from entering a casino.

    I mean, the very least the recipients of Social Security can do is buy SECURITY with it rather than scratchy tickets and slot machine tournament entries,

  • Akston

    Food stamps are government charity for poor people…to buy food.

    Social security is a citizen’s own money returned to him after theoretically being held “in trust” for decades. The money, once collected, is then immediately lent back out to the general fund, spent, and gone. That’s certainly an indictment of political management of citizens’ money, but it does not turn FICA into charity.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy

    I suppose the charitable interpretation is that he doesn’t want the regulatory structure unduly hampered by inflexible requirements imposed willy-nilly by the legislature.

    But I have to agree that requiring that food aid be used for basics (like…food!) instead of luxuries is not exactly a unexpected requirement.

  • procopius

    “This is exactly why I support banning anyone over the age of 65 from entering a casino.

    I mean, the very least the recipients of Social Security can do is buy SECURITY with it rather than scratchy tickets and slot machine tournament entries,”

    Interesting statement, and to be honest with you, I’ve felt 100% like this towards SS beneficiaries in casinos for many years. But then one day I took into account what the nature of SS is supposed to be. Notwithstanding who can get SS these days, this was initially laid out to be something that’s not a “true” entitlement, but rather scaled to the taxes a person has paid over a lifetime.

    I think that that sharp, depressing pang in the stomach I’ve felt when watching old people gambling their monthly SS checks in a casino, was really a moral response, rather than an unspoken argument against entitlement misuse.

    Then it hit me that even the moral response is baseless, at least in my case. I got the standard amount of govt PEL subsidies in college and GOD KNOWS what complete bullshit I spent *that* money on. I cant even remember now, but can guarantee that it was spent on things that weren’t exactly “wise”. And that was a true entitlement to boot.

    So what I’m saying is that the idea of a ban on senior citizens spending SS checks on certain things has no grounds on neither the Entitlement Standpoint, nor the Moral Standpoint.

    *That said*, it would make me happier to see old people give more of a shit and instead hand those checks over to something far more redeeming (and compared to gambling almost anything else would qualify) than to put those checks straight into a slot machine.
    This has little comparison to the actual article here, which is about EBT cards, which is pretty much a hardcore “entitlement” and which I pretty much am in agreement with.