The Rules are the Rules

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14333972 - woman customer shopping in department store and paying by credit card

Just about the time we are able to understand and communicate, the idea of ”rules” is impressed upon us. If we didn’t learn about the concept between the ages of two and four, entering school would have been quite a shock. Rules are everywhere – literally. As a kid, the rules are pretty simple? don’t cut in line, be quiet when someone else is talking, get to school on time…you get the gist. (By the way, these are great rules to follow even as an adult.) When we grow up, there are traffic rules, laws (the big rules) and even rules against NOT preventing fraud. Although it sounds a bit nonsensical, a Think Progress article reveals a thing or two about the rules.

Lawmakers are essentially the architects of the rules for each state. In Rhode Island, lawmakers are moving to pass a new rule, HB 5646, requiring recipients of food stamps to provide a photo ID when using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to redeem benefits. (Hallelujah! Here we go – a way to start the prevention of food stamp fraud.) Under the proposed law, retailers who fail to check the photo ID with the name on the EBT card would be suspended from being able to accept EBT cards for a period of one month per offense. (Sounds like common sense to me.) However, the measure is being met with some resistance based on current ”rules.”

Let’s take a look at the arguments (a.k.a. rules)? (1) ”Poor people are far less likely to have a photo ID than middle class and wealthy individuals.’? The fear is that this will prevent them from redeeming their benefits. (Solution: Give them a 90 day period to get an ID – they don’t need a license.) (2) The law doesn’t discuss whether it should affirmatively provide the photo ID to the individuals in need, such as a similar law does in Tennessee and Missouri. (Solution: Amend it.) (3) Under the current law, if one family member is enrolled for EBT card use, any member in that family can use the card. With a photo ID, it would only enable the person with the name on the card to use it. (Like this is never abused. This is a recipe for the current fraud. Solution? They all need to show up when applying and have their picture on the card. Excuses for ”inconvenience” are nothing but that, EXCUSES.) (4) Federal rules currently prevent individuals with EBT cards from being treated differently from any other shopper – they would need to ID every single shopper to match a photo ID to name on the card. (This rule was created by the federal government – last time I checked, they can change it. They are the solution.) (5) ”The purported rationale behind the bill – fraudulent use of food stamps – is virtually nonexistent…the rate of food stamps is one percent and trending downward.” (HAHA? Where did they get this statistic? This guy should be featured on late night TV – great joke.) The debate between the seriousness of food stamp fraud is about as large as the debate on whether the bill will pass or not. (Just keep living in the dream world – no fraud here.)

I don’t know what’s more bizarre – the five rules that would prevent actual fraud prevention, or the idea that there is no fraud. For some reason I am reminded of the saying ”Stupid is as stupid does.’? Let’s recharge the brain and recognize the problem here, folks. This is a great step toward a solution. Don’t let the challenges impede the victory.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Rhode Island Lawmakers Propose Requiring Poor People to Show ID When Using Food Stamps,” written by Scott Keyes and published by the Think Progress on April 3, 2012.

As conservative lawmakers in states across the country move to require photo identification in order to vote — despite the fact that 1 in 10 voters lack such an ID — legislators in Rhode Island are looking to expand the same requirement in another area: food stamps.

Next week, the Rhode Island House of Representatives will consider HB 5646, a bill introduced by five Republican State Representatives, including Deputy Minority Leader Joseph A. Trillo. If enacted, the legislation would force retailers to require people using food stamps to first present photo identification. From Section 1(e) of the bill:

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.