2,000 Dead People Got Food Stamps

Elizabeth Harrington | October 18, 2012 | 5:25pm EDT
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(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – New York and Massachusetts are administering food stamps to 2,000 dead people, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) catalog of government waste.

The 2012 Waste Book, released earlier this week, documents $4.5 billion in waste in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

Among his findings, Coburn said that, “The USDA Inspector General found roughly 2,000 dead people are still receiving food stamps in New York and Massachusetts combined.”

“Additionally, its investigation revealed 7,236 people in these states are receiving duplicate benefits, while 286 are on state lists that should exclude them from receiving food stamps,” the report said, amounting to $1.4 million in unnecessary payments each month, or $147.03 for each recipient, dead or alive.

But the waste in SNAP does not end there, as Coburn found that individuals who smoke marijuana can receive added benefits.

“In three states,” Coburn writes, “some individuals received more food stamp benefits simply because they smoke marijuana.”

Under the section “More money for the marijuana munchies,” the Oklahoma Senator detailed how some states previously offered a deduction for pot smokers.

Marijuana cigarettes and marijuana pipe. (AP)

“Marijuana has been linked to an increased appetite, known as getting the ‘munchies,’ so perhaps it is no surprise the states of Maine, New Mexico, and Oregon gave extra food stamp benefits to users of the illegal drug,” the report states.

It continues: “These states allowed some marijuana users to deduct the cost of the drug from their income when determining the amount of the benefits provided for which they are eligible.  In Oregon, the deduction ‘[i]ncluded … fees for obtaining a state-issued medical marijuana card, expenses incurred while cultivating marijuana and the costs of purchasing it from a third-party grower.’”

It is unknown how many people took advantage of the deductions. However, the Department of Agriculture ordered all three states to discontinue their marijuana policies in July.

Coburn further detailed how food stamps are used to buy alcohol, fast food, Starbucks Frappuccinos, and junk food.

Each year, Coburn compiles a list of what he considers the most outrageous examples of government waste.  “Washington priorities are backwards,” he writes.  “This is why important programs go bankrupt while outdated and outlandish projects continue to be funded.”

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