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Graph: Media Matters

Graph: Media Matters

On Tuesday’s edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade exaggerated the slight rise in food stamp fraud, in yet another attempt to attack the program that provides food aid for millions of low-income individuals, the majority of whom are children.

“Thirty percent: That’s how many more Americans, according to a new study, are selling food stamps for cash illegally. No…that’s not legal. Nearly 48 million people receive food stamps. The program costs $80 billion a year,” Kilmeade ranted.

The study Kilmeade is referring to is one released by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 15. The new report on the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, found that benefit tracking, which occurs “when SNAP recipients sell their benefits for cash to food retailers, often at a discount,” had risen from 1.0 percent in 2006-2008 to only 1.3 percent in 2009-2011.

However, when referring to the study, Kilmeade – who is not first  Fox News representative to misrepresent social welfare programs — only referenced the general change in fraud levels, and neglected to mention how little fraud was actually found in the program and how great the “growth in the program” has been in recent years.

The program’s benefits increased from $36 billion in 2008 to $73 billion in 2011, following the economic crisis.

In fact, the USDA’s report proves that SNAP boasts one of the “lowest fraud rates of all federal programs,” and the .3 increase in fraud reflects “an increase in overall enrollment in food supplement initiatives” and “an increased number of small and medium-sized businesses which are authorized to accept SNAP benefits.” The report found that small retailers accounted for 85 percent of the trafficking identified.

The rate of SNAP benefit trafficking has steadily declined since 1993, and rose for the first time in 2009-2011. Even so, the 1.3 percent rate of trafficking remains a historic low.

SNAP has since taken steps to counter the benefit fraud found in the new study, including disqualifying retailers that engaged in trafficking, suspending retailers that are suspected of fraud, reviewing high-risk retailers, and even “cracking down on fraud online.”

H/t: Media Matters

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