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The Farm Bill Can Keep Millionaires From Receiving Food Stamps

With all the advancements our nation has made in technology and data, you’d think that it’d be easy to keep millionaires from using and abusing welfare resources like food stamps.

The truth is, it’s really not that difficult—it just requires state and federal leaders to be willing to put in a little work.

The easiest way is to close a loophole called Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE). As outlined in a new paper for the Foundation for Government Accountability, the loophole was opened by regulation during the Clinton administration, and then it was expanded during the Obama administration. It allows states to ignore income and asset limits under federal law for food stamp applicants and enroll individuals who are ineligible based on these income and asset limits.

Senior research fellow Paige Terryberry explains how it works:

“States receive money from the federal government for their cash welfare program in block grants. States then use that money to print welfare brochures and pamphlets or make referrals to a toll-free hotline providing information about the program. States deem the brochure or hotline a ‘benefit’ and deliver it to food stamp applicants, making them ‘beneficiaries’ of the state welfare program. These households are then ‘categorically eligible’ for food stamps.”

Forty-one states and Washington, D.C., ignore the federal income and asset limits, allowing millions of ineligible enrollees to receive benefits that should be reserved for those who truly need them. It’s also opened the door to waste, fraud, and abuse.

As the paper notes, households eligible under BBCE were nearly three times as likely to have payment errors than other households.  

With it being a Farm Bill year, Congress has an opportunity to close this loophole for good. Eliminating the BBCE loophole could save taxpayers an astounding $112 billion over the next decade and help restore program integrity.

At FGA, we don’t just talk about changing policy—we make it happen.

By partnering with FGA through a gift, you can create more policy change that returns America to a country where entrepreneurship thrives, personal responsibility is rewarded, and paychecks replace welfare checks.