Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system in the United States that allows state governments to provide taxpayer-funded welfare benefits by issuing a plastic debit card to use for food, certain services or cash. In Massachusetts, EBT cards are used to gamble, join health clubs, travel out of state, and get tattoos; to buy jewelry, guns, pornography, makeup, and tickets to movies and sporting events.
Whoa, now that is REALLY funny! Wait. It's about Massachusetts. Could it possibly be true? Checking again with snopes.com, found that no urban legends about EBT cards had been investigated and found inaccurate.
Before I laugh, I need more information ...
Here it is, a front-page splash in the Boston Herald about a Boston heroin dealer who after his latest arrest used his one phone call to ask an associate to "get my EBT card and go to the ATM and get the money to bail me out ... tonight."
Upon further investigation, it was learned that EBT "poor people" can use the card as a taxpayer-funded ATM to get cash for anything.
Angered by the story, House Speaker Bob DeLeo began to support some of the reforms that had been advocated by state Rep. Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton), Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Boston) and others.
According to the State House News Service, "the proposed House budget, released last week for debate next week, contains several new restrictions on what welfare recipients can purchase using state-issued electronic benefit cards, including firearms, cosmetics, jewelry, travel services, health clubs, tattoo parlors and gambling. The restrictions are similar to those recommended last month by a special commission on EBT cards, and would add to the current ban on purchases of alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.
"The House budget would also prohibit liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs, smoke shops, gun dealers, tattoo parlors, nail salons, health spas, rent-a-centers, electronics and appliance stores, jewelry shops, gyms, movie theaters, bail bonds, and bars from accepting EBT cards."
However, Rep. O'Connell said any reform is meaningless if it allows payouts from the ATM to be used for any of the prohibited items. She argues that since the cards are meant for necessary supplemental benefits, they should not provide cash where there is no way to track the spending, which can include alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. She and legislative allies are expected to offer a bi-partisan "no cash" amendment during the budget debate.
The budget document also would ban using the cards out of state except for the five Massachusetts border states; apparently they've been found in Florida during the winter. And, if you're not laughing yet, get this: State figures show that roughly 20,000 cards are replaced each month.
Has your sense of humor absorbed the obvious selling of the cards to those who are not eligible for welfare, then presently replaced free?
Well, if you're not laughing, you must be one of those humorless fiscal conservatives. If you're angry, perhaps you're one of those mean-spirited taxpayers with no compassion for the poor who need their tattoos.