The sheer meanness of some Arkansas legislators can’t be understated.

Always, they want to squeeze the people getting meager public assistance from one of the chintziest states in the country when it comes to helping the needy.

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Case in point:

This piece of legislation.

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Sponsors: Sen. Scott Flippo and Rep. Robin Lundstrum. It purports to “promote integrity” in welfare programs.

What it does, for one, is require the state to check the rolls of people who qualify for “food stamps” to be sure none of them has won a “substantial” prize by playing the lottery.

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On at least a monthly basis, the Department of Human Services shall review the information described in subdivision (b)(1) of this  section and deny or revoke assistance for the entire household upon verification of any substantial winnings.

No food for kids if a mom or dad played the lottery and got lucky, perhaps with a dollar scrounged from selling aluminum cans. (It is OK if they play and lose.)

In the name of supposedly conserving state resources, the bill would require employees of many other agencies to undertake monthly checks to be sure no “change of circumstances” might call for a reduction in nutrition benefits. There are paragraphs of new Medicaid eligibility rigamarole, with mandatory training of hospital staff in rooting out people ineligible for subsidized health care (such as legislators receive as a matter of right). It is reminiscent of the attorney general’s Medicaid fraud division, which turns up small-time cheating nursing assistants and the like on occasion but rarely uncovers the big abusers at the top of some corporate efforts.

My attention was drawn to the legislation by this Tweet, which makes a good point:

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Legislators who grow fat on the public teat are always quick to presume cheating by the welfare class. Projection perhaps?  Do they demand the same rigor in tax audits of millionaires? Of corporate welfare beneficiaries?

No, they prefer to make potato chip purchases illegal with food stamps or penalize an entire family for someone chasing a mathematically improbable dream in a state gambling enterprise designed precisely to milk poor people to benefit primarily middle-class white kids.

The Yukon-driving welfare queen stopping at Whole Foods for a porterhouse and lobster tails is an image, since Reagan, that Republicans just can’t quit. They should spend more time where the ragged people go, rather than the lobbyist-cosseted confines of the Capitol.