Our Opinion: Welfare limits ease threat to needy families

The legislative equivalent of a “no-brainer” was signed Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The new law prohibits welfare recipients from spending government subsidies at liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs.

We call this a no-brainer because it protects everybody — taxpayers as well as welfare recipients.

Taxpayers justifiably resent subsidizing a welfare recipient’s visits to the liquor aisle, slot machine or XXX venue.

Consequently, welfare abuse generates deserved push-back, which threatens government assistance for people with legitimate needs.

The new law, specifically, restricts use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash benefits at the aforementioned businesses, as well as items marketed exclusively for adults. A provision also increases penalties for misusing public assistance.

At a bill signing, Nixon said: “By strengthening existing protections for taxpayers and children, and cracking down on those who misuse public funds, this bill will help ensure these programs continue to provide temporary support for needy families and children in a proper and accountable way.”

An added incentive for approval was Missouri compliance with federal guidelines; noncompliance would have risked the loss of 5 percent of the program’s funding.

The state legislation was approved unanimously, 33-0, in the Senate, overwhelmingly, 110-36, in the House.

Opponents, largely Democrats, objected on the basis some liquor stores also sell food.

Their complaints are lame. The prohibition applied to businesses that “exclusively or primarily” sell liquor. Furthermore, people who grocery shop at liquor stores at unlikely to get their recommended daily allowance of nutrients from beef jerky and party mix.

This legislation is hardly a slap at welfare recipients. Instead, it will crack down on welfare abusers, who pose one of the greatest threats to needy families.

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