A lead story in today's L.A. Times reports that Californians on welfare spent more than $69 million out-of-state in recent years.
Get ready John and Ken and all you other shock jock talkers: Included in the spending were “millions in Las Vegas, hundreds of thousands in Hawaii and thousands on cruise ships sailing from Miami.”
A closer look reveals there are better things to be outraged about today, however.
The money was spent between January 2007 and May 2010.
The biggest recipient of the out-of-state welfare cash is also a sexy symbol to show profligacy and bureaucratic idiocy: $11.8 million was spent in Vegas.
How Reagan Retro: Welfare Queens!
Except, here's paragraph 18:
The out-of-state spending accounts for less than 1% of the $10.8 billion spent by welfare recipients during the period covered, and advocates note that there are legitimate reasons to spend aid money outside of California. From the data provided, it cannot be determined whether any of the expenditures resulted from fraud
As Kevin Drum notes at Mother Jones, “Vegas/Hawaii/Miami accounts for about 0.11% of total welfare expenditures.”
To qualify, the Times instructs, a single parent with two children must earn less than $14,436 a year to qualify and becomes ineligible once his or her income is north of about $20,000.
When you consider that at least some of the money spent out of state is legitimate (should a welfare recipient be able to visit a sick relative?) and that in some cases no doubt the welfare cards were stolen, we're talking about a tiny group of recipients spending taxpayer money in glamorous locales. Even among these reprobates, the 1996 federal welfare reform law imposed time limits, meaning their little joyrides won't last.
The fact remains, the vast majority of people on welfare are extremely destitute, and their measly checks barely improve upon that. But you won't hear from them in today's Times story.