Break the link of welfare fraud

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

THE ISSUE: An estimated 10 percent or more is spent in welfare fraud.

WHAT WE THINK: The state should take measures to reduce fraud and save taxpayer dollars.

For a state that is as deep in debt as Illinois, any measure that would help reduce waste and fraud should be celebrated.

However, the House’s passage of a bill that would look at the cost of placing photo identification on Link cards has Democratic representatives crying foul.

Link cards, which is the debit card form of federal food stamps, are given to low-income individuals to help purchase nutritional food.

Although Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) estimates that more than 10.5 percent of welfare spending, roughly $750 million for Illinois, is fraudulent, the prevailing argument against the study is that Republicans voting for the bill are ganging up on welfare recipients.

Nevermind the fact that the bill is merely looking into the cost of having photo identification on the cards, it is being demagogued as mean-spirited and impractical.

This isn’t to say that the idea of having photo identification on Link cards is a perfect idea. Many individuals who receive Link cards have families that they support with them, which would create problems if someone other than the photo recipient tried to purchase groceries with it.

Pending the study’s findings, actual legislation could be taken up to tackle the issue of fraud with welfare money, whether it is through photo identification or some other means.

Illinois is in too precarious of a financial situation to continue to fund programs like Link without at least looking into reducing the amount of fraud. If the annual figure of $750 million in fraudulent welfare spending is anywhere close to accurate, then it is imperative that the state’s politicians find a way that the money stays with the people it is supposed to assist.

Illinois politicians need to quit playing games and make the tough decisions that will help the state prosper once again. Looking into photo identification to reduce Link fraud seems like a good area to target.