Editorial: DAs need to collect from deadbeats, not casinos
The idea is tempting: A jackpot winner at a Nevada casino has his back child-support payments deducted from the check before he ever sees it.
With all the problems the government seems to have in actually collecting child support, it would be a $348 million windfall over five years for the nation’s children and custodial parent who scrape by month after month without the money owed to them by a deadbeat dad or mom.
President Clinton made the proposal in his 2001 budget. Supporters point to similar methods, such as state lotteries, which already are required to deduct unpaid child support before a winner can collect.
Certainly private business is already involved in the collection process by garnishing wages. The government has also seized bank accounts, withheld driver’s licenses, and taken the money out of federal tax returns.
So this would be one more step toward making the scofflaws pay, right?
Yes, and it would be one more step in the wrong direction.
The fact is that too many local, state and federal governments aren’t doing their jobs in collecting unpaid child support.
Mothers (the deadbeats are almost always men) run into such a thicket of red tape, uncooperative attorneys and unexplained delays that we have to admire the ones who actually persevere long enough to get their court-ordered share. And we’re not even talking about the additional complications created by the state’s NOMADS computer problems.
It’s indicative of Clinton’s misunderstanding of the problem that he wants to spend $125 million to help 40,000 low-income deadbeats find jobs, so they can meet their obligations.
What a ludicrous proposition: Spend $125 million to help the dads find jobs, and then ask the casinos to collect money.
If Clinton wants to spend money, it should go to overburdened District Attorney’s Offices so they can enforce collections though the means already available to them. Any job-hunting incentives can come through work-release programs, and deadbeat dads can spend their nights and weekends in jail.