With the still-sluggish economic recovery, rising costs of living and 7.0% national unemployment rate, many Americans are still finding it difficult to provide for the essentials of daily life to get by. But in the state of New York, with an even higher unemployment rate of 7/7% and one of the highest-taxed and costly places to live, Democrats in the state Assembly have put a halt to stop efforts to stop the abuse of SNAP benefits has remained stagnant. (h/t Rusty Weiss at Mental Recession).
The Public Assistance Integrity Act, introduced by Republicans State Senator Thomas Libous, originally passed in the summer of 2012, called to “prohibit the sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or lottery tickets with public assistance benefits; prohibits the use of public assistance benefits, by means of an electronic benefit transfer transaction, at a liquor store, casino or adult entertainment facility; establishes the public assistance integrity fund.”
“Public assistance is designed to help needy families provide for their children until they can transition back to the workforce and become self-sufficient,” Sen. Libous told the New York Post in a June 14, 2012 article. “This common-sense legislation would protect hardworking taxpayers from abuse while ensuring that individuals receiving welfare benefits continue to get the temporary assistance they need and deserve,” he said.
Why the resistance to such a common-sense piece of legislation? Part of it is likely the result of the divided and dysfunctional government in the state as detailed by AlterNet. Or, more likely, could he be angling for votes in a possible 2016 presidential match-up on the Democratic Party ticket? With such progressive-tending likely candidates as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley as possible contenders (or competitors?), it could simply be a move to triangulate a la Bill Clinton to come across as the more centrist candidate without alienating liberal voters.