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Poor people with money should be outlaws?

Minnesota Republicans say: Poor people with money should be outlaws

By Staff | 
March 15, 2011
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St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.

On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant - and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?”

House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP - and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid - could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card.

The bill also calls for unconstitutional residency requirements, not allowing the debit card to be used across state lines and other provisions that the Welfare Rights Committee and others consider unacceptable.

Buechner testified, “We’ll leave you with this. It is not right to punish a whole group because of the supposed actions of a few. You in this room could have a pretty rough time if that was the case. It is not right to stigmatize and dehumanize women living the hard life of trying to raise children while living 60% below the poverty level. It is not right to use racist, bumper-sticker hate to inflict human misery for political gain.”


I thought welfare was supposed to be a hand-UP program to help people temporarily until they can get back on their feet, not trap them in a hole they can't get out of because they can't save money. 

So, what are you thoughts?


Asked by SpiritedWitch at 2:24 PM on Mar. 17, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 40 (118,000 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (25)
  • Here's the context of the bill.

    It doesn't restrict the amount of money a poor person can have. Anywhere. It says that they aren't allowed to take cash out from the grants that they receive, but have to use debit card transactions. Actually an amount of money isn't listed anywhere. People can't take cash out to buy booze. It doesn't say anywhere that they can't have a checking account.

    Answer by lovinangels at 3:02 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • What Lovin says makes sense. I know back 20+ years ago when I worked in a grocery store and food stamps were actual dollars people would buy a candy bar and get change back from $1 of food stamps. They would do that a few times until they had enough change to buy a pack of cigarettes. Since they put it on a debit card, they can't do that anymore. I guess this is to stop them from taking out money to buy things that aren't meant to be covered, like booze, cigs, gambling, heck maybe even drugs.

    Answer by DSamuels at 4:03 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • That's just absolutely awful and quite honestly makes my blood boil. DH lost his job and our DD has a medical card and we have a couple hundred in food stamps every month. Not b/c we WANT to but b/c we NEED to at this point while we try to get back on our feet. How is anyone supposed to get back on their feet if they can't pay bills or rent or car payments to go out looking for a job? How can someone even think it's ok to SUGGEST passing a law like this? It's very degrading to the people like myself and DH who are on assistance b/c we have to be until things get better. Not EVERYONE uses and milks the system so they can sit at home all day not doing anything. That proposal is really offensive to people trying to better their situation using the tax dollars we have paid through years of working. Thank God we don't live in Minnesota or I would pack up and move if that was passed, not that it will be.

    Answer by Mamapunkin21809 at 2:36 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • I don't have a problem helping a person who needs it, and I also don't have a problem with helping them to not squander it either. Debit cards and restricted use of it will eliminate waste and fraud, and nobody should be in favor of waste and fraud.
    The recipients could receive MORE if it wasn't wasted by the millions
    The donors could pay LESS if it was used efficiently.

    Answer by jewjewbee at 2:39 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • Yeah it's bullshit all right. I sure as hell don't have $20 in my pocket right now and we don't get welfare. I'm not on a highhorse either. Where I come from you get off your ass and work even if you're a janitor and if there is no job where you are, you look elsewhere. We did that and had to move. We had debt from the move and didn't have one luxury, no cable, no net, nothing besides food and a small, lousy place to live until we had our debts paid. The "nest egg" comment was in response to the comment previously about people on welfare should be able to get more money than they actually need to eat to build up money so they can get off welfare. You know how you get off assistance? A job. I know more about working and having very damn little to even nothing than the vast majority of those on welfare I've ever seen so get off it. The money is on a card, you don't need cash withdrawls to piss away.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:48 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • Unfortunately more than a few have made it difficult for everyone else. I didn't know for a long time that cash could be withdrawn from these cards. I thought the card had to be used for all transactions. That might be what needs to get done, from food to bill paying. Surely an adjustment could be made, if needed, to use the card like a debit card since it can obviously be used as an ATM card, to be used to pay utility bills. It's not popular I suppose but it seems like access to cash is what is causing problems on the welfare issue. It's supposed to be short term help but when the wrong people are getting food, bills, and even phones paid for, it's not much of an incentive to get off the programs. As for the "there are no jobs" argument, this is where you might have to start looking elsewhere. We moved for a job to avoid welfare or living with family. Sacrifices have to be made by everyone sometimes.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:34 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • So people really believe that they should be able to get enough welfare to build up a savings? Amazing. I don't suppose anyone is bothering to think about all the working people in this country who live paycheck to paycheck, therefore they have no ability to have savings for a rainy day. Not only that, they don't feel like they are entitled to free money to build one. Unbelievable the sense of entitlement I see on here daily.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:09 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • I wouldn't touch this topic with a 10 foot pole. It just gets people all worked into a lather.

    Answer by jesse123456 at 4:39 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • I guess this is to stop them from taking out money to buy things that aren't meant to be covered, like booze, cigs, gambling, heck maybe even drugs.

    (a) MFIP recipients are prohibited from using MFIP monthly cash assistance payments issued in the form of an electronic benefits transfer to purchase tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, as defined in section 340A.101, subdivision 2, or lottery tickets.

    Wooohoooo, guess I guessed right!



    Answer by DSamuels at 8:24 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • This is just INSANE!! It will NEVER hold up at the supreme court level.

    Answer by vbruno at 2:27 PM on Mar. 17, 2011