, Newburyport, MA


June 3, 2013

Editorial: Time to begin reforming welfare iis now


Photo ID’s would make it harder for the heirs to cash in grandma’s EBT card. It would also make it harder for recipients to sell their EBT cards and for fraudsters to sign up for multiple cards.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions with law enforcement personnel who have told us about the multiple identities,” Senate President Therese Murray told the State House News Service. “When they arrest some people, they have multiple identities on them including multiple EBT cards and Social Security cards.”

House Speaker Robert DeLeo also backs photo ID. In fact, the House budget called for photo IDs with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. The Senate killed that provision in its version of the budget. Murray said what was needed was a comprehensive reform plan.

DeLeo would still prefer to make a photo ID requirement part of the budget — and so would we — because it would guarantee quick action. A comprehensive reform bill might take months, or years, to pass.

Murray wants a package of reforms that would also include reducing the number of waivers exempting recipients from the welfare-to-work requirements enacted as part of reform legislation passed in 1995.

Murray would also put a stop to a scam that involved transferring custody of a child from a parent to a child to keep the welfare flowing, according to the State House News Service. And she would look into the habit some recipients are reported to have of moving to warmer climes in winter while still collecting.

Yes, the welfare system needs a thorough overhaul, but there’s no reason to wait to implement the photo ID requirement, a simple and practical way to deter fraud.

Massachusetts citizens, like Americans in general, are generous people willing to come to the aid of those who need help. Just witness the outpouring of support, financial and otherwise, after the Boston Marathon bombing.

But their support evaporates when they suspect the system is being gamed or abused, as the welfare system clearly is. Their patience is growing short.

Those who want to preserve the welfare system for those who really need assistance need to fix it and now.

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