48% Of North Dakota Welfare Spending Is On Fast Food, Eating Out, ATM’s And Movie Rentals

debit swipe

I wrote previously about disturbing numbers from the North Dakota Department of Human Services regarding the use of TANF (welfare) funds in the state. DHS hasn’t been very forthcoming with data, and in my previous post I was only able to tell you about percentages of funds spent on certain categories with no dollar amount and no indication for how much of the state’s TANF funding is distributed through debit cards.

Now, thanks to a request prompted by my post from state Senator Margaret Sitte, we have some additional data. You can see the information in the PDF document below, but here are some highlights:

First, more than 99.5% of TANF funds are distributed through these debit cards. So when we’re talking about these debit card funds, we’re pretty much talking about all TANF benefits in the state.

Second, DHS is projecting to distribute $11.7 million in TANF benefits by the end of 2013. Here’s the category break down I gave you in my previous post, only this time with dollar figures attached:


This categories illustrate some very poor priorities among TANF recipients. Roughly half of the total TANF funds, some $5.6 million, is spent on eating out (both fast food and regular restaurants, movie rentals and ATM withdrawals. If we consider that a significant amount, if not most, of the $2.26 million spent inside gas stations (which is nearly 20% of the total) is probably junk food, you get a grim picture of how these funds are being spent.

Which is to say, on frivolities and luxuries rather than needs.

DHS told Senator Sitte the same thing they told me, which is that transaction data (i.e. the time, date, location debt card transactions take place) isn’t available because of the Federal Privacy Act. Which is strange because, as I’ve noted previously, reporters in other states have accessed that data (and found some disturbing results).

I’m continuing to push for this data. I do think it’s open, and I think North Dakotans deserve the full picture as to how this money is being spent.

ND TANF Report by

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • whowon

    Good job Margaret Sitte, we need more like her. Thank God for you too Rob!

  • Jonesy

    “Roughly half of the total TANF funds, some $5.6 million, is spent on eating out (both fast food and regular restaurants, movie rentals and ATM fees.”

    I’m guessing you meant ATM withdrawals. Although I don’t like the thought of these people getting cash from the cards which then can’t be tracked, it would be difficult for people in small towns where credit/debit cards aren’t accepted to purchase certain items. But I guess most small towns don’t have grocery stores anymore anyway. Personally, I’m thinking ATM withdrawals shouldn’t be allowed and the use at restaraunts and for DVD rentals obviously shouldn’t be happening. Are the TANF funds really supposed to be used to buy gas? That also seems like a weird one to me but other people seem to have less of an issue with it judging by the comments on your previous write-up.

    • Jonesy

      Nevermind, I see TANF isn’t really food stamps (SNAP), it’s just welfare. Buying gas is probably ok then. Although I think SNAP should be pretty much the only form of welfare available.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      You’re right, I meant ATM withdrawals, I updated the post.

      TANF funds for gas is fine. That’s justifiable, especially in ND where public transportation isn’t really a practical option in most areas.

      But the fast food/eating out/movies stuff worries me. As does the total lack of accountability when it comes to the ATM’s.

      • sbark

        but, but , but…..I’m sure the Fast food/ eating out is “reasonable” because of the grueling endless job search they are on…….I sure they come out of one interview, grab a quik burger a McDonalds and then its just on to the next job interview

        • tb

          Haw haw, good one! Because poor people NEVER WORK. I think incredibly petty sarcasm—no doubt written with a look on your face like you just swallowed some throw up— directed at people who have nothing is heelarious.

    • SusanBeehler

      How do you think they will get to their job if they don’t have gas? How do you think they will pay for a bus ride in cities like Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks if they don’t have cash? Can you go a whole month without cash?

  • headward

    Taking money from the government should give you no privacy. That is my tax money and I want to know who is getting it and where it’s being spent or we should stop the entire program.

    • SusanBeehler

      It is also funded with child support.

      • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

        No, it isn’t. This is wrong.

        If a child for who child support is being paid receives TANF funds, the child support goes to the state as reimbursement.

        This program is funded by federal tax dollars, and based in part on child support collections.

        • SusanBeehler

          I think you are saying the same thing aren’t you? It is funded by the child support received for a child on TANF and those whose child support is not collected or not enough our tax dollars pay for it. If their is no child support that can be collected for someone on TANF than our tax dollars pays for it. Just like you can’t see what a parent spends their child support on you will not be able to see what the TANF person spends their TANF on.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            It is reimbursed by child support. It is not funded by child support

          • Lordwhorfin

            Good Lord you’re dim. It’s an off-set. Wow. PA 101 fail.

          • SusanBeehler

            If I pay for something out of my pocket and someone paid me back I would not say I paid for it, I did not fund it. Who ever reimbursed me was the “funder”

        • Hal414

          I can’t believe that Susan is wrong. She has never been wrong before.

          • SusanBeehler

            I think it is strange to say TANF is not funded partially by child support when 45% is be reimbursed from child support. Child support is paying the taxpayer/government, back that is why it is called reimbursement. Maybe the disagreement is over fund, pay, pay back, or reimburse. But as far as I see it, people paying their child support to those receiving TANF are saving the taxpayers almost half.

    • Eric Wittliff

      I love that idea. Take a penny of government money then you
      don’t have a 4th amendment anymore. You know how annoying that thing has been for 200 years! Do we know how much crime we don’t know about? I know I don’t. But we need to find out and this is the way to do it.

      Take TANF we need to know if you like strippers. Take collage subsidize loan, then you’re going to have to give us some hair follicles every month so we know you are not smoking our low interest. Like the Earned Income Credit on your 1040? Well we get to put cameras in your house to see what you’re doing with it. Want to drive on a public road? They will need to track you with GPS. And Rob is using this network what was created federally funded, sorry it’s a nice blog but we are going to need to see your Internet history.

      It’s about time start reacting to things we don’t know about!

      • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

        I don’t agree with headward that those taking federal money should lose all their rights, but certainly you aren’t arguing against transparency in how this money is being spent are you?

        • headward

          I don’t think you should lose any of your rights. It’s not the government forcing individuals to take this money. They are going to government under their own free will and applying for this program. Taxpayer money usually has strings attached but this one doesn’t. Who says they’re not buying tobacco and alcohol with it.
          There use to be public shame when you’re on welfare. Now it’s the new normal and very accepted in society. The welfare state only makes society worse and lazy. There’s no incentive to put a few more hours at a job because it may make them get less welfare or kicked out of low income housing.

          • SusanBeehler

            “Taxpayer money usually has strings attached but this one doesn’t”
            that statement is a load of crap! Parents have to sign over their “rights” to child support in order to go on TANF, rights which should be the child, the state steps in and becomes the “puesdo” parent, the “puedso” obligor to pay the support with TANF, Rob and you just are not understanding how it works. TANF is the “big daddy” when the daddy or mommy is not paying the support. Believe it or not, this is how the system works. There use to be public shame when a parent refused to take care of their offspring but too many walk away from their obligation to support. It will take a lot more in wages to get kicked off “housing”. “Housing” which some “fat” cat landlord benefits from even if his apartment is a “dumpster”.

        • Eric Wittliff

          Modern US Conservatism was founded on the equal protection of the law. If your saying “transparency” is making people tell you how they spend money given to them by the State, than you equally would have to make all of us fallow that too regardless if it TANF . This is equal.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            That’s quite the leap in logic.

            Most of us don’t get funds from the government.

          • katall

            I am not 100% sure that is true. I would think that a plurality does. Between Social Security retirement and VA, direct agricultural subsidies…, there are a lot of people who get money from the government. And that does not count the numerous tax loopholes…

          • two_amber_lamps

            According to leftist theory…. Social Security dollars were placed in a “lock box” for the individual so they could be drawn out at the time of retirement. Therefore it’s not an entitlement. According to leftist theory that is…

            But now you want to chuck them in the same category as TANF recipients?


          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            Well, a tax loophole isn’t getting money from the government. Unless you subscribe to the idea that all the wealth belongs to the government int he first place, which I don’t

            Not that I’m for tax loopholes. I like my taxes flat, broad and low.

            Ag subsidies are just another form of welfare. You’ll get no argument from me on that, but VA benefits are compensation for service rendered the government. Those aren’t an entitlement.

            And most of us conservatives would be happy if you liberals would let us opt out of Social Security. As it is, we’re forced to pay in.

          • Eric Wittliff

            Only pay taxes on the things we as individual would want. Henry David Thoreau thought of that too.

          • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

            “A lot of people who get money from the government”

            Social Security isn’t “getting money from the government” until the government has paid back at least as much as the individual contributed to it. After that, we can talk about the malfeasance in not investing those funds so that they were repaid with interest.

            “that does not count the numerous tax loopholes” There’s a good reason for that. “Tax loopholes” are not money from the government. A so called tax loophole is a person paying less of what they have earned to the government. If I have more money in my pocket because I bought fewer groceries this month, that doesn’t mean that my grocery store gave me money.

            Keeping more of what you earn is not a “payment” from the government, nor is it a “gift”. If you cannot understand that, you probably shouldn’t be attempting this particular discussion.

          • SusanBeehler

            get right on that and get back to us

          • Eric Wittliff

            Most people don’t get TANF… a lot of people do get $$$ from the State. Besides EIC or some thing like Bush’s direct stimulus, we use services built by the group. The list from my above post shows some of the list.

          • two_amber_lamps

            By your same logic if we send one individual to prison for committing a crime, then we ALL must serve prison sentences.

            That’s a mighty fine Non sequitur argument you got there!

            Ever think that a little transparency into the spending habits of TANF recipients and some corrective action might actually be a impetus to GET OFF the dole?

            For some anyways…. there will always be the socialized class of indigents who won’t crawl out of their hole unless you cut them off.

    • tb

      Yeah, well *I* think driving on government roads should give you no privacy. I want an itemized list of every place you went last year, and what you did there. I don’t want my tax money subsidizing your trips to the porn store and God knows what else.

      • Lordwhorfin

        Right on headward! I especially don’t want deadbeats on clover-leaf exits – those things are expensive!

      • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

        It’s always easy to refute an argument when you reduce it to some absurd comparison and then attack the straw man.

        I think the rest of us would rather discuss this like adults.

        • tb

          Bitter people sitting around bitching about the poor is not my idea of adult conversation. I’m sorry. As for my last post, what attack and what refutation? I simply took Miss Headward’s already absurd, totalitarian viewpoint to its logical conclusion.

    • Mike Francis

      If you itemize deductions or take tax credits you are taking money from the government. So we should give you no privacy.

  • bman3725

    I agree with Jonesy, i also want to add…the majority of these purchases are for food, and i am quite sure these same people are on food stamp programs and i am wondering why our government has not made any changes to this considering our issues with the economy and all. I say scrap welfare PERIOD. It has not worked the way they intended. I understand there are people from time to time that need help but thats the only time it should be issued and not just because one is sorry an doesnt want to work

  • WOOF

    Poor children and mothers are eating .
    Some could be stuffing themselves with Goupon discounts.

    • guest

      “Poor children and mothers are eating”

      Along with slackers and moochers who prefer to have the government take care of them… AKA dem/libs.and woof’s.

      • WOOF

        First Collector:
        At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually
        desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and

        Are there no prisons?

        First Collector:
        Plenty of prisons.

        And the union workhouses – are they still in operation?

        First Collector:
        They are. I wish I could say they were not.

        Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened
        to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.

      • tb

        I’m taking wagers on whether this guy is dictating this from an iron lung— I’m guessing 3:2 in favor.

    • sbark

      What is public perception on where the highest incidence of Obesity occurs……seems to the me the incidence is much higher in poor demographics
      and then, like smoking–in ObamaCare those 2 demographic groups will be getting approx double the premiums…..if you are an actual working stiff.
      the “poor”….it will be another “free stuff” item to vote for

      Those working for a living are loosing to those just voting for a “living”….things that just cant go on forever………wont.

      • Lordwhorfin

        You need to up the anti-psychotics, ‘friend.’

    • sbark

      Wouldnt they also be eating inside a traditional family structure with both parents in a house (vrs single parent environment welfare enables)……and wouldnt they be eating if a parent had a job?………
      ………and wouldnt all in the family have more self esteem, pride, sense of accomplishment?
      …..but hey…a vote for the Dem’cat party via free stuff is more important huh?

  • RandyBoBandy

    I would love to see what they bought at the grocery stores. Back when I bagged groceries in high school I was confused as to why EBT cards could buy Mountain Dew.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      From what I gather from DHS, the cards function as credit cards, so they can pretty much buy anything.

      But remember, this is TANF (welfare) not SNAP (food stamps) so it’s a little different.

      • SusanBeehler

        They also do not allow you to buy gas at the pump unless you want $75 held for up to 10 days.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      What I’m really interested in is the locations of these transactions. For instance, where are these ATM’s where they’re taking out the money.

      Bars? Strip clubs? We don’t now.

      • RCND

        No matter the location, once the card is used to draw cash there is absolutely no assurance it is going for what it is intended to be used for.

        • SusanBeehler

          You would rather look at the amount a parent is getting for the child than the amount the state is collecting to administrate the payment to the child. You are looking in the wrong are to save tax payers money!!! Almost 50% is being reimbursed by an absent parent. Where do think money for foster children comes from?

      • tb

        See, the difference between normal people and people like you is that normal people would “love to see” the Eiffel Tower, and are “really interested” in a visit to the Smithsonian. It’s hard for them to get excited about busting poor people for possibly spending their government pittance in ways they don’t approve of. Normal people see that as incredibly petty.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          I guess I’m interested in sound public policy.

          Sorry you disagree.

          • salvagesalvage

            So what you would like is that the poors send you a item by item list of everything they spend your precious tax dollars on and then you can check off your approval and anything you don’t like is forbidden to them?

            It’s so odd that you don’t demand this level of scrutiny for the billions spent on bloated defence contracts.

            Well I guess it’s easier to muster contempt for the poors cuz they’re all lazy, shiftless shuck’n’jivers right?

          • two_amber_lamps

            That’s a mighty fine strawman argument ya got there… throw in a little argumentum ad misericordium for good measure.


          • salvagesalvage

            Wingnut shouldn’t use terms it does not understand otherwise it looks stupider than usual.

            See when someone is making a “strawman” one does not ask it as a question and you are more than welcome to show me Rob complaining about government “waste” in defence or anywhere else.

            Bonus points if you can show him doing it in the Bush years. Remember those times? When Bush could spend billions chasing WMD that never were and wingnuts just cheered and cheered with the occasional burp of “IT’LL PAY FER ITSELF! USA! USA! USA!”

          • two_amber_lamps

            Alas Comrade salvagesalvage, your grasp of the concept of logical fallacy is, shall we say…. lacking. Let me help ya’ with that.

            So what you would like is that the poors (sic) send you a item by item list of
            everything they spend your precious tax dollars on and then you can
            check off your approval and anything you don’t like is forbidden to

            Straw Man fallacy: The argument simply ignores a
            person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or
            misrepresented version of that position.


            Class dismissed…

            So as taxpayers we’re not entitled to know how our treasure is being (mis-)allocated? Ya’sure…. whatever you say, libtard drone.

            Also, that’s a nice case of BDS ya’ got there! Do you ever toddle your way up to the present?

          • swan ronson

            How exactly is salvage’s point an exaggeration of Robs? How is it a “strawman”? Rob has admitted as much in that he would at the very least like to see where the ATM’s are located. It stands to reason he would be “interested” in what, specifically, these people are spending their TANF funds on. And while it might be an exaggeration that Rob would “forbid” them from spending it on things he doesn’t agree with, it certain stands to reason that he would have no problem writing a column chastising them for spending it on items he doesn’t approve of. I’m not sure you are grasping the concept of a strawman yourself.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Alas… if I have to explain to you the concepts of “exaggeration” and “strawman” you really are not equipped to communicate here. It is assumed the participants have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the English language.

            Therefore, you lacking such, invalidates the necessity to reply since you’d most likely “not understand” my explaination… your ignorance feigned or otherwise.

            This conversation serves no further purpose.

          • swan ronson

            Dear Lord, how do you actually get out of bed in the morning, knowing you will have to interact with a race of fools so clearly beneath your superior intellect on an almost constant basis? And do you need special shoes, braces or crutches to help you get around, because I can only assume that someone so clearly full of them self might weigh more than most mere mortals, and would need some sort aid to keep them from crashing through most floors.

            Also, if you think every time someone exaggerates they are using a strawman argument, you are an idiot. Or a pompous twit. Take your pick.

          • two_amber_lamps

            (sigh) OK… one more time for the cheap seats…
            The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a
            person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or
            misrepresented version of that position. This sort of
            “reasoning” has the following pattern:

            Person A has position X.

            Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).

            Person B attacks position Y.

            Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

            This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a
            distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on
            the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor
            drawing of a person to hurt the person.

            Therefore Comrade Einstein… exaggeration by itself is NOT a straw man argument. The straw man definition includes using the exaggeration in the process attacking anothers argument because the exaggeration makes the argument easier to defeat.

            Ergo, logical fallacy… the basis of your argument is fundamentally flawed.

            Class dismissed….


          • salvagesalvage

            Ha! Ha! Yes! I am a communist!

            I know wingnut that winguts do not understand irony but claiming I am throwing out “straw man” while calling me a communist is an example.

            Let me see if I can make wingnut understand. WingutRob has provided a breakdown of what the poors spend their government provided pittance on and has made it clear he frowns on nearly half of it. The poors should not be doing certain things with his precious precious tax dollars is clearly his message that you and other wingnuts agree with yes?

            That is his ACTUAL wingnut position, not an exaggeration, does wingnut understand?

            And it is a stupid one for many reasons, the biggest being that his precious precious tax dollars are wasted in far more egregious examples that wingnuts never want to talk about.

            Iraq being a prime example.

            >So as taxpayers we’re not entitled to know how our treasure is being (mis-)allocated?

            Yes wingnut you certainly are but being wingnut your outrage is always selective. Wingnut only care when it’s something wingnut wants to get angry about, in this case the poors.

            >Also, that’s a nice case of BDS ya’ got there! Do you ever toddle your way up to the present?

            Ha! Ha! Yes! Iraq was so long ago! Centuries! We might as well be talking about the Civil War! There is no American soldiers there now at this very second and none died there last year and no tax dollars paying for it! No one can ever remember Iraq! It is not on Fox News anymore so it is no longer real. That is fair and balanced.
            And yes! Ha! Ha! You would have to be deranged to hate Bush for being a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya and never fired no gun and is going take away all wingnut guns and make everyone gay marry and abort until America is Marxist!*

            Oh, no, wait, Bush lied about WMD and got hundreds of thousands of people killed and spent billions of your precious precious tax dollars doing so! One would have to be crazy not to like him!

            Which would be the vast majority of non-wingnut Americans. I know you only pay attention to bad Obama ratings but what did Bush finish his term with? That number represents how many wingnuts there are in America.

            *I know, I know more strawman, no wingnut has ever said those things about Obama, I’m making it alllll up!

          • two_amber_lamps

            Nope… this “wingnut” (certainly not a hackneyed cliche of an ad hominem) isn’t buying your argument.

            We’ve already established via various laws that we can require the unemployed to produce proof that they are actively searching for a job via the applications they’re supposed to produce, calls/contacts to perspective employers, etc.

            Why do you think it such a reach then that we make mandates as to what those on welfare can and cannot spend their taxpayer-provided checks on?

            I guess you still don’t understand the concept of “strawman” but I’ll take one more stab at educating you…

            If you “exaggerate” (big word, look it up) Rob’s position:

            So what you would like is that the poors (sic) send you a item by item list of
            everything they spend your precious tax dollars on and then you can
            check off your approval and anything you don’t like is forbidden to

            See the part about requiring “lists?” Those are your words, not Robs.

            Therefore, nice strawman argument…

            See how easy that is? Now go back and find the rest of logical fallacies in your last posts… It’s easy since they’re chock full of em!


          • salvagesalvage

            Yes, yes, many politicians have done an excellent job in making the poors a target for wingnuts to shriek and spit at. A wonderful way to distract from their own gorging on the public teat. The Welfare Queen with her brood being driven around in Cadillac talking on their Obama phones fills wingnuts with bowel-shattering rage.

            See normal people know that it sucks to be poor and that the vast majority use their money to help themselves get by. Yes some certainly do spend it foolishly but the money is so piddly only a complete self-righteous asshole who has an endless need to feel superior would care much less carp about it.

            Or a wingnut.

            Yeah, wingnut still don’t understand what a question is, but wingnuts and understanding stuff, always difficult.

            But did wingnut not notice the list that wingnutRob is citing? His questions about a further breakdown of what the poors spend his precious tax dollars on? It begs the question how much further he would like to go in tracking his precious tax pennies.

            Oh and I guess that means wingnut cannot show us where Rob has complained about other wastes of tax dollars?

            It’s weird how wingnut freaks over American citizens using money to buy goods and services from other American citizens but says nothing about spending billions more to get American citizens killed on the other side of the planet.

          • two_amber_lamps

            I LOVE it when you even save me the trouble of decoding your logical fallacies when you even go so far as to TITLE your argument “it begs to question.” Therefore we’re alerted to the fact that everything thereafter is admittedly (by your own vernacular) putting words in Rob’s mouth!


            For such a “small” number of cases in which the welfare state is being abused… care to cite that number? Or are you just pulling facts out of your @#$?

            Duh, of course you are.


            “About 13 percent of the federal budget in 2011, or $466 billion, went to
            support programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or
            Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing


            (See how easy citing facts are? M’kay? Now you try!)

            At least Rob cites what numbers he can pry out of the state… seems the state isn’t so forthcoming with the data.

            What’s weird is you blindly trust government with all manner of idiot plans justified under “the necessary and proper” clause yet have conniptions about wars fought on the other side of the planet entered into with the bilateral consent of Congress (something your messianic Comrade Obama bypasses) which is in fact a delineated function of that governing body.

          • salvagesalvage

            >Therefore we’re alerted to the fact that everything thereafter is admittedly (by your own vernacular) putting words in Rob’s mouth!

            You are very wingnut.

            >For such a “small” number of cases in which the welfare state is being abused…

            $580 million of the $2.45 billion in total UI overpayments for 2001, or 1.9% of total UI payments for that year, was attributable to fraud or abuse within the UI program. By any standard, these figures add up to a lot of money. That is why the Department of Labor has been hard at work on the problem.


            That sounds about right, generally if someone is into scamming money they’re more inclined to find lucrative targets, welfare isn’t.

            >At least Rob cites what numbers he can pry out of the state… seems the state isn’t so forthcoming with the data.

            Because it would cost more to track the data to such petty details then it would save.

            Yes, there is blind trust and no oversight with welfare despite the fact that you yourself point out that there is much oversight. Wingnuts often contradict themselves, the question is do they notice it or is it like autism? The information does not process?

            The war in Iraq was voted on after being told by the Bush Administration that Saddam has WMD and would burn London in 45 minutes if he wasn’t stopped.

            Those were all lies and apparently you think the people who believed the lies are more to blame than the liars.

            That is one of the many reasons that make you wingnut.

            Oh and the irony is the only effective criticism of Obama comes from the people who voted for him. The proof of this is how he won the election and has made more than a few shifts to the left.

            Gay marriage before he leaves office, all over America, I will enjoy the wingnut howls.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Hey, look… see ya learned to cite your references! Good boy! Now you just need to read past the numbers and understand the 1.9% of the welfare budget attributed to fraud is that which they FOUND.

            Welfare fraud can take many forms:

            Accepting unreported income for work

            Not reporting income from non-work sources

            Incorrectly reporting the value of vehicles and other assets

            Misrepresenting where a child lives and attends school

            Accepting day care subsidies when a child was not receiving care

            Not reporting the presence of all adults in the home

            Creating false identities in order to receive multiple payments

            Not reporting a move in order to receive benefits from more than one state


            Ya see, welfare is a tough nut to crack… many ways to defraud the system, and even though criminals tend to be lazy… they’re also tend to be cunning. So if you think your 1.9% is all the fraud that’s there… well, I’ve got some ocean-front property in ND I’d like to sell ya…

            But you know, why bother to dig the bugs out of the woodwork? It’s too difficult… right?


            That’s the wonderful thing about being a leftist, you’re allowed to be amoral… it’s what your daddy Saul Alinsky preached after all.

            The war in Iraq was voted on after being told by the Bush Administration that Saddam has WMD and would burn London in 45 minutes if he wasn’t stopped.

            Would this have been provided by the same intelligence agencies that told us the Benghazi Embassy was overrun and our Ambassador and personnel killed by a spuriously formed protest?

            Quit living in the past Comrade BDS.

          • salvagesalvage

            Wingnut is shown to be wrong so wingnut decides to make stuff up. Yes, wingnut knows more about welfare fraud than the department that has to tools, experience and personal to investigate welfare fraud.

            Saul Alinsky! AHAHAHAH! Wingnut most people never even heard of that guy until wignuts started babbling about him.

            And then wingnut tells me to “quite living in the past”?

            See wingnut how you don’t understand irony?

            And Bengahzi! Tell me wingnut how many attacks on embassies were there in the Bush years vs. Obama? See wingnut? This is the selective outrage that I am talking about.

            What’s funny is you think that no one notices but they do and that is why you are wingnut and only good for pointing at and laughing.

            But please keep it up, it’s funny and it ensures a continued Democratic government. You have one more set of elections to lose for the GOP.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Of course I understand Irony… particularly when a leftist libtard talks about history and the past…

            100 years of failure proves nothing… da Comrade?


            It’s not my fault that you cannot see the parallels between your statist ideology and that which time and again has failed in most every place it’s been tried.

            But it’ll work this time… da Comrade?

            How many of those attacks during the Bushitler years resulted in the death of an Ambassador? Either Bush? Throw in Ronnie? Oh yeah… ZERO! How many of those attacks were played off as “random demonstrations” instead of the calculated islamo-fascist assault that it was?

            How many dead Ambassadors were @$$-raped by said islamo-fascists because the regime refused to mount a proper response because it was too close to an election and would upset the talking points revolving around the “fact” that “Libya is finished?”

            Your “Democratic” Government is in fact democratic socialism…. which is an abomination of the “Constitutional Republic” which is (or used to be) the form of government delineated under the Constitution.

            Do me a favor my bolshevik friend… read both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and count up the number of times the word “democracy” or “democratic” is mentioned.

            Pure democracy is nothing more than tyranny of the majority. 200 hundred year old dead guys knew that time and again democracies were proven to FAIL because they eventually implode. Time and again history bears this out.

            But your history teacher told you that you live in a democracy… useful idiot.

          • salvagesalvage

            Wingnuts when shown to be wrong the decent into gibberish is inevitable. Much like a squid squirting ink only squids are smarter.

            Ha! Ha! Yes! I am a communist! That’s exactly what I have been talking about here the centralization of power and economy to achieve an egalitarian society.

            Raped? What are you gibbering about?

            So Obama should nuke Libya? Invade? What would be the right response?

          • SusanBeehler

            If you are truly interested in sound public policy, look closer at the budgets for the department.

          • tb

            Right, you’re just a high-minded policy cat. And the big $$$ are in the poors getting an occasional Big Mac. That’s where the real egregious abuse of the system is happening in America today.

      • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

        Here in California, a surprising amount of cash withdrawals from EBT cards were being made at Indian casinos.

      • SusanBeehler

        You may be interested in this, but it does not mean it is there. Why is this such a important thing for you to find? What is driving you to find it? What is your motive?

    • SusanBeehler

      Do you drink Mountain Dew? Do you have a soda once awhile? These are people not “freaks” from another planet

  • ec99

    Over 50 years ago, shame was associated with being on the dole. Now, it’s viewed as an entitlement. People feel they have a right to spend other people’s money, and feel no responsibilty to lead a life style reflective of their parasitic existence.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      On the college campuses, university officials encourage students to sign up for food stamps since it’s their “right.”

      • Guest

        Just like Walmart

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          That’s just a talking point made up by the unions.

      • Lianne

        Isnt’ that just sad and truly unbelievable.
        I recently read about a young college grad who sacrificed heat, air conditioning, gas, etc to pay off his college debt within two years. He did say used up his food stamps left over from college. WHAT? But, along with eating, oh my gosh, expired food, and not turning on the heat; he did pay off his loan. I wish there were more like him. Obviously there aren’t or he wouldn’t have made the news.

        • WOOF

          I heard he sold his girlfriends baby for dope.

          • Hal414

            Did you hear that US Senator Menendez (Democrat-NJ) sold the dope and bought the baby too?

      • Lordwhorfin

        Got any proof of where and why, Rob? Link to an article with context? Students who are struggling will OF COURSE be counseled to use available programmatic help available. This pitiful assistance will not be available to Biff and Muffy, though. Only to the kinds of students you don’t like.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          You know, a simple web search would have given you your answer.


          And college kids might not have to go onto foodstamps if we hadn’t inflated the cost of college with the very sort of policies liberals like you think help people.

          • swan ronson

            I found it. Right there under the requirement that they are working 20 hours a week while also being full time students to be eligible. Lazy bums.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Try working 32 hours a week while holding a full time credit load… but that was back in the days when I had to carry a full time job so I could manage my own health insurance.

            Good think your messiah fixed that! Heavens, we wouldn’t want college kids to have to deal with a little adversity….

          • swan ronson

            So, twelve more hours? Let me find my fainting couch while you get back to yelling at the kids to stay off your lawn.

          • two_amber_lamps

            That includes squatters like you… go plant your derelict @$$ somewhere else.

    • guest

      Please tell us about the last time a poor person gave you a job or started a business that employees others. Please tell us about all the contributions that poor people make to charities that benefit others. Get the picture?

    • digitusmedius

      This is just so false. Do you actually know anyone getting this assistance? Do you really think they brag about this?

  • sbark

    Caught an article on Japan, who after decades of economic stagnation borught on by too much govt, welfare etc……..is now making changes to make sure welfare programs do not pay more than a job………..
    Now in an American Liberal’s mind…….that would simply be raising the minimum wage high enough (35k/yr) to be over the ave. welfare dole.

  • Lynn Bergman

    Rents and other legitimate expenses should be subsidized directly to the landlords/providers. Why in the world is CASH available to the “poor” from tax revenues? We should be giving a hand up, not a hand out.

    • SusanBeehler

      “Welfare” has been always been available as “cash” they used to “cash” checks now they have to withdraw the cash! Cash is used to pay landlords, day care and things like MDU

      • Suzanne LaBorde Long

        Cash is also used to buy tampons, toilet paper, diapers, and cleaning products.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          That’s no doubt used. It can also be used to buy beer.

          The point is, we don’t know how it’s being spent.

          • MacCheerful

            The point is you have an obsessive need to control the lives of those receiving public benefits and ensure that not one dime they spend is for anything other than what you approve of. That’s a terrible burden to bear.

  • SusanBeehler

    “When a family member applies for TANF assistance for or on
    behalf of the family/ she or he must assign to the STATE any rights to support the family members may have as a condition of receiving TANF-funded assistance.”
    Rights; if you ask, it is defined as “money”, the person’s child support will now go to the state to reimburse any welfare given and at one time it meant even what you were entitled to prior to receiving TANF.
    Not all of this money is coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket, in North Dakota people paying child support if it is collected also goes to reimbursed the TANF they receive! It is under federal law they are allowed to do so, US Dept Human Services Family and Children division. Child support and TANF funds are intermingled and have been for quite some time. My opinion this is why our Human Services has refused to go to a shared parenting system, because it is not to the state advantage to do so.

  • Eric Wittliff

    Rob, you might still
    be looking at this data wrong. Have you notice none of it goes to rent or mortgage
    on this report? It is because you cannot pay that with a card. You would get
    cash or check from a bank/atm and then give that to your land lord.

    Once it is in cash it is untraceable, so even if you could
    drill down on what merchant it was used at it still would not give you the data
    you want.

    As a fiscally responsible person you did get other info that might DHS might be-able to drill down on. The # of cases loads and cost of cases load went down while population has risen. That’s huge thing and we need to know why that is. And can we do more of it? They might have data like if the people got jobs, moved away, or used all they could get. They also might have data of why people report why they need to take TANF and we could resolve though walls in getting full employment for all people. They should have case load data broken down by county so you could find out if it rural or urban issue.

    It’s good to see the state going in the right direction with # of families
    needing this support. The number one access to freedom and happiness is full employment. Hope you can get more info so we can bring the numbers down more.

  • Guest

    you might still be looking at this data wrong. Have you notice none of it goes to rent or mortgage on this report? It is because you cannot pay that with a card. You would get cash or check from a bank/atm and then give that to your land lord.

    Once it is in cash it is untraceable, so even if you could drill down on what merchant it was used at it still would not give you the data you want.

    As a fiscally responsible person you did get other info that might DHS might be-able to drill down on. The # of cases loads and cost of cases load went down while population has risen. That’s huge thing and we need to know why that is. And can we do more of it? They might have data like if the people got jobs, moved away, or used all they could get. They also might have data of why people report why they need to take TANF and we could resolve though walls in getting full employment for all people. They should have case load data broken down by county so you could find out if it rural or urban issue.

    It’s good to see the state going in the right direction with # of families
    needing this support.The number one access to happiness and freedom is full employment. Hope you can get more info.

  • http://ifthethunderdontgetya.blogspot.com/ ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    I think you are a pathetic waste of skin, Rob.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Everyone’s a critic.

      • Lordwhorfin

        Well, of you, yes.

      • SusanBeehler

        It is not that, it is you are trying to materialize something that is not there, you are looking for the spending in the wrong place, the “waste” I would wager is in government administration of these funds not the “user” itself. You are “pickin” on parents who need help to support their children. If your children did not have you or their other parent, or supportive grandparents, how would they pay their rent, eat, buy clothes, buy school supplies? People no matter how much they do not want assistance may at some point in their life need someone to come along side them to help them sustain their life and their children’s lives. There are those who abuse the system or now how to work it, so if people see someone living with another person and you know they are getting TANF than they should be reported. What you are doing is petty, because you looked and found nothing, so reporting this and putting a spin on it is not “nice” nor is it evidence of anything unusual!! These are parents with children or some our just children and you are judging them based on something we all do which is provide for our children!

    • two_amber_lamps

      Opinions are like @#$holes…. everyone’s got one. And yours stinks.

  • digitusmedius

    As a liberal, I can see why this list is worrisome but I wonder why this is allowed to happen. Surely the government could set this up like food stamps and limit where the debit card can be used (cash would be more difficult to control). Could the reason possibly be that retailers successfully lobby to make sure this money gets spent in as many and varied stores as possible? Whenever the idea of abolishing the food stamp program comes up, those in all parts of that sector, including conservative farmers, sure make it know that they don’t want it to go away. As always, the “follow the money” rule is one of the first things that should be looked at when criticizing a program like this, or any government spending. So, as to the stripping of constitutional rights (my, how easily that comes to some minds) based on taking tax payer money: if we’re going to really do that (of course, it would be blatantly unconstitutional) shouldn’t every individual and business that benefits from direct government spending or generous revenue expenditures be subjected to this? Why do “we” only seem to want to always punish those who get the least?

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Surely the government could set this up like food stamps and limit where the debit card can be used

      I’m not sure the food stamps program is really any better.

      • digitusmedius

        Then, do you have some suggestions for how to correct this or is it just the usual “scrap it all” conservative view? We are talking about a miniscule amount of money compared with what this country lavishes on other programs and the corporate world that conservatives favor.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

    i’m going to explain it to you, very slowly.

    the poor are not the problem. the very wealthy are, and they’re slowly killing all the things that made this country once great. which includes the social safety net.

    the upward transfer of wealth in the last couple of decades is the most destructive, harmful thing that has affected millions of americans and billions around the world. “austerity” is an evil.

    it is very difficult, these days, for the poor to shop “right.” first of all, a it’s very difficult to live off a few hundred dollars a month. ever tried it? you may not be so sanctimonious if you had.

    secondly, it’s not like there are plenty of jobs just waiting to be filled out there. the U6 numbers in many areas goes as high as 60% and higher. even if poor “lazy” people wanted work, they frequently cannot find it.

    finally, there are a hundred other more wasteful programs that we could cut, that would make it so the tiny amount we spend on programs for the poor would no longer bother even a heartless scrooge like you. programs that make weapons we don’t need, fund wars that accomplish nothing, that subsidize corporations making record level quarterly profits… if you have to be angry about the “waste” your tax dollars fund, get angry about that.

    i really don’t understand people like you. are you paid by some rich person to publish this claptrap? do you hate the poor because one turned you down once when you were a pimply faced boy? don’t you have any compassion, any humanity? i guess the answer is “no.” you are a terrible person for writing this.

    • Lordwhorfin

      Thank you, CD!

    • two_amber_lamps
    • http://twitter.com/LitThom Little Australia

      Thank you.

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

      There are some people that are unable to take care of themselves and we can and should help them out. But too many “poor” nowdays are living large off of other peoples’ hard work. They need to start making good choices and quit mooching.

      • Whistler’s Mother

        “Living large” ? In 2004 the maximum monthly TANF benefit paid in North Dakota to a single-parent-headed family of four was $573

        • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

          TANF, Free heat, foodstamps, “tax rebates” when you never paid taxes, free tuition, free school lunches…. I don’t know what other programs are out there, but it adds up to a lot of money.

          In most cases a person can’t take a job that replaces the free money so they’re trapped in a no growth lifestyle.

  • $25003899

    “Spent” on ATM withdrawals?

    Okay that’s funny.

    Yes, one of my pet peeves with those ATM machines is that they dispense cash marked “This Money Must Be Spent On Luxury Items” rather than on groceries, at the pharmacy, for a cheap cup of coffee, bus or subway tickets, and so on.

    God knows I never spend ATM cash on any of those things, it wouldn’t be normal.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      The problem isn’t the ATM withdrawals specifically, but the lack of transparency.

      And it would be interesting to know the locations of the ATM’s. If the ATM’s are located in bars, well that’s a problem isn’t it?

      • MRC210

        Right. So you automatically assume that the ATM wihdrawals are all being used for frivolous luxury items. And you include them all in your count of the percentage of funds used for frivolities and luxuries. Because otherwise the percentage of TANF funds used for restaurants and movie rentals would only amount to 20% and you need that “roughly half” to work up some outrage. So of course let’s assume that all ATM withdrawals are being used for eating out and movies, because if they don’t give you, personally, an account of what they spend the withdrawals on, then you’re free to assume anything that will bolster your argument, aren’t you?

      • SusanBeehler

        When they gave checks, the checks were cashed and their was ZERO transparency. If they pay rent, or MDU receipts are given to their caseworker. How could you administer this so we could see where every penny was spent? How do you propose to make a more cost efficient way to see what was spent? Do you say they only get 30 diapers? Too bad if your baby soils more often than another? Do you say you can’t pay a babysitter with cash because that would cause a withdrawal on ATM? How will you track these purchases? Your goal has been a quest to find the “strip club” purchase or the jug of wine, you didn’t find it in the last article and now you are just appearing more petty. You want to find fraud go after the big buck, the big ticket expenses, not the parents with children.

    • SusanBeehler

      AGAIN it get a clue, the only way you can cash a check is if a check is issued. TANF no longer issues checks!!!!!! So if you got to pay a babysitter than you will need cash, if you got to pay a landlord you will need cash and then turn around and buy a money order or get a check. Stop and think can you only use a card for all your purchases? Of course NOT, people on TANF are not some kind of hybrid which do not spend money just like others!!!!!!

  • salvagesalvage

    Yes, it’s so great being poor!


  • Kyle Michel Sullivan

    Incomplete is right. What items are actually being bought with TANF funds at service stations, discount stores, and drug stores? Are these the only places close enough to get to to buy food, if you don’t have a car? Are the fast food restaurants the only places close by to have something to eat — like the $1 value menu at McDonald’s and Burger King — when you have nothing in the cupboard and no way to get to a grocery store? Could it be that these people are using TANF funds to buy gas to get to work? And taking out cash so they can buy cheap clothes for their children to get to school? Or buying school supplies? How many of the families receiving aid are actually the working poor, making $7.25 an hour for a 32 hour week (which is $12,000 a year, before SSI and other taxes are taken out, and no employer-offered benefits)? Is under $600 a month for a family of four worth all this strumg und drang, while multi-billion dollar corporations consistently get away with paying zero dollars in taxes? Why do so many people assume all of this is wasted money, when in fact it might be keeping people alive and their children healthy and them able to work?

  • http://twitter.com/LitThom Little Australia

    Does anyone have any doubt that a lot of the people on benefits in North Dakota are Republicans?

    Maybe, Rob, since you’re into transparency, we could find out how many?

    • two_amber_lamps

      Care to cite the percentages of your argument and a source? Or are you just making stuff up with the expectation that we’ll just assume you’re right?

      • http://twitter.com/LitThom Little Australia

        Holy crap. You’re an idiot.

        • two_amber_lamps

          What’s “a lot” of people? 2%? 0.5%? Are you being some kind of consensus builder?

          Pulling #$%T out of thin air, that’s what I thought. That’s ok, you can just admit you’re a pathological liar… it’s a documented psychological problem. No shame in embracing the fact… it’s the first step to getting treatment.

  • Dr. Hunky Jimpjorps

    Why do you assume that all of the money withdrawn from ATMs is being wasted on items you consider frivolous, or is being withdrawn at “inappropriate” locations like bars and strip clubs? Why do you think that people are spending more money on snacks than gasoline at service stations?

  • digitusmedius

    As a follow up to my comment much earlier this morning, my brilliant wife mentioned that in many poor urban neighborhoods there are no supermarkets and in mostly rural states like ND the closest one could be well beyond the means of a good many of the people on TANF to get to. As you can see from the very small percentage spent on gas (outside, service stations) it appears that not very many people have their own automobile but there are surely plenty of places to buy gas with a “mini mart.” So, the options for where to buy food are quite limited for many people. Those of us lucky enough never having had to rely on this assistance take so much for granted and often rush to judge others without the full story.

  • mediocretesofpedestrium

    Assholes like this are all about “freedom” unless somebody else makes a free choice they don’t like.

  • Keith A. Badje

    The whole “where the money is being spent thing” is pretty much irrelevant. Grocery stores sell Doritos, gas stations sell milk. ATM w/d’s probably are going to paying for luxuries like “rent” (most landlords don’t take Mastercard) or “utilities.” Even if a fair portion of someone who’s on TANF’s cash allowance goes into dinners at Wendy’s or for cigarettes or booze or strippers or (GASP) Redbox DVD rentals…well, why does it matter? The money is getting circulated back into the economy. You may not LIKE how it is getting circulated back into the economy, but even if all of some person on welfare’s cash goes to buying booze, cigarettes, and lap dances, liquor store workers and strippers eventually have to go buy groceries too.

  • cgregor

    Here are a couple of possible solutions:

    1. There are (and I was certainly one of them) poor parents who don’t know how to shop wisely, nor are they aware of the market’s willingness to fleece them. So, recipients of TANF funds could at the same time received education in spending wisely (which I could have used) and in the need to be wary of their status as suckers (which would not be allowed if done by any governmental agency for the same reason that books get banned in public schools: somebody influential is getting their ox gored.

    2. Form “shopping clubs” of TANF recipients to share tips about how to get past the convenience stores, how to identify and buy the best food bargains (for both cost and nutrition), how to carpool for grocery trips and so forth.

  • Baron Elmo

    Man, do these lazy “poor” moochers make me sick. They need to be shamed, reviled, and spat upon in the streets.

    Can we make it legal to beat the cr*p out of welfare leeches, food stamp bums and homeless people on sight? Not to death, mind you — just enough to make them hurt as much as American taxpayers do. (Broken bones are acceptable.)

  • ND girl

    Considering the current debate on drug testing recipients and the 27.6% of funds taken as cash withdrawal. Thinking maybe a limit or elimination of cash withdrawals would be a way to control the possibility of using that revenue to support a habit or misuse of TANF funds.