Flush US Lottery Winners Still Clung to Food Stamps

A person buys a Mega Millions lottery ticket at a store on July 29, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. The jackpot for Friday’s Mega Millions is now $1.1 billion, the second-largest jackpot in game history. InternationalIndiaAfricaSince US President Joe Biden took office, he has racked up quite a staggering spending spree track record, with expansion of food stamp benefits just one such example, as the nation struggles to deal with soaring inflation and rising grocery prices squeezing Americans’ purse strings.You might think that anyone flush after hitting the jackpot would feel secure enough to ditch food stamps, but, apparently, that is not quite the case, a US watchdog has revealed.Since 2019, more than 65,000 lottery winners across the country who raked in sizeable sums continued to rely on food stamps, as per a survey by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) cited in a US media report.Recipients of America’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) binged on food stamps even after exceeding the federal income threshold for the assistance program. The survey examined data from 13 US states, looking into individuals who had made “killings” ranging from $4,250 to $2 million.

"It shocks the conscious and defies belief… And this is data from only 13 states. The 50-state number is likely titanic. The scale of the problem is staggering — even by government standards," Hayden Dublois, data and analytics director at the FGA, was cited as saying.

© AP Photo / Nam Y. HuhCustomers walk into a convenience store to buy Powerball lottery tickets in Northbrook, Ill., US.Customers walk into a convenience store to buy Powerball lottery tickets in Northbrook, Ill., US.The analysis showed that in the abovementioned period, fewer than 400 lottery winners were scrubbed from the food stamp program, which overall extends to some 41.8 million people. Incidentally, the state of Illinois appeared to lead the pack, with only 99 of around 50,000 sizeable lottery prize-winners dropped from the food stamps recipient list.As spending on the food stamp program in the United States doubled from $60 billion in 2019 to $120 billion in 2022, Dublois added:”The food stamp program is a safety net meant to help the truly needy, not lottery winners or millionaires… All it would take is a simple database cross-check and asset test, but most states don’t do it.”© AP Photo / Rich PedroncelliIn this photo a sign announcing the acceptance of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards is seen at a farmers market in Roseville, Calif., US.In this photo a sign announcing the acceptance of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards is seen at a farmers market in Roseville, Calif., US.

Closing ‘Loopholes’

The FGA went further than simply assembling the data, and offered up its solution to the problem. Thus, it made the case for reforms of the food stamp program in the upcoming Farm Bill.The Farm Bill is a US law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. The package of legislation is renewed on a regular basis, roughly every five years.An array of measures has already been introduced by Republican lawmakers in Congress, which they believe could shut the existing loopholes in the food stamp program. Thus, the No Welfare for the Wealthy Act and the Snap Back Inaccurate SNAP Payments Act, have been touted as means of cracking down on ineligible recipients.

“Families across the country are going hungry while bureaucrats are jumping the line to gobble up SNAP dollars, either as a meal ticket to beef up state budgets or a self-serve buffet of benefits for themselves or others who do not qualify," Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who introduced one of the bills (Snap Back Inaccurate SNAP Payments Act), was cited as saying in September.

By Any Means NecessaryBillions Go to Ukraine as Pandemic SNAP Benefits Set to Expire1 March, 09:12 GMTThe FGA recently underscored that changes to the food stamp program under the Biden administration, such as the hiking of food benefits by 27 percent across the board, were hitting taxpayers hard. Citing forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimated welfare benefits’ expansion will cost up to $250 billion over the next decade, the FGA advised Congress to either repeal Joe Biden’s food stamp expansion, or temporarily pause future benefit hikes. Otherwise, they argued, the stamp expansion would “bleed taxpayers,” while monthly benefit increases “continue to drive inflation and higher grocery prices.”EconomyFed Official Eyeing Higher US Rates as ‘Inflation Remains Too High’ Ahead of November Meet2 October, 20:21 GMT


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