Conservatives say they hate welfare, and although they won’t usually admit it, they seem to hate people who receive welfare benefits more than they hate the program itself. Recently a Syracuse, New York area diner owner who is a proud conservative has found himself in a position that doesn’t seem to fit with the supposed conservative belief of ending government “handouts” such as food stamps and Medicaid.
Michael Tassone owns the American Diner in Liverpool, New York, a suburb of Syracuse. Tassone became a Fox News celebrity several months ago because of his menu, which offers customers dishes such as “The Anti-Michelle Obama Don’t Tell Me What To Eat Or Feed My Kids Burger.” There’s also a breakfast choice called the “Dictator Obama/NYS Special (King Cuomo).” That’s a plate of eggs and toast that costs $3.59 plus tax. But the tax, according to the menu, is $27.99.
The photo accompanying the story on FoxNews.com shows the outside of the diner, which features a Gadsden flag — a Tea Party emblem. Next to the door is an upside down American flag, a signal of a dire emergency. According to Syracuse.com, the inside of the restaurant is adorned with anti-Obama and Tea Party photos and other politically themed decorations.
Tassone says that he is not a Republican, and Syracuse.com reports he is a registered member of the Conservative party. In addition to the food choices, the menu explains Tassone’s political philosophy to customers. One of the tenets of that philosophy, as laid out on the menu, is this: “Government and taxes are the problem.”
Government hating Michael Tassone was just convicted of Medicaid fraud.
The case actually goes back to 2011. Tassone and his wife were arrested and charged with welfare and Medicaid fraud for understating their income on application forms. The couple was accused of accepting over $25,000 in Medicaid benefits to which they were not entitled, between May of 2009 and April 2011. It has taken five years to resolve because the Tassones were given the opportunity to make restitution. After paying the Onondaga County Social Services Department over $23,000, Tassone was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “offering a false instrument for filing,” and given a one-year “conditional discharge.” A felony charge of welfare fraud was dropped because Tassone had paid back most of the money he was accused of receiving.
In March, the right-wing restaurateur cried the blues to Fox because the state of New York increased wages for tipped workers from $5.00 to $7.50 per hour. He claimed that due to the increase his payroll has gone up by $21,000. Tassone also said that the increased wage has forced him to lay off a worker, and that he now has to work “103 hours per week.” Doing a little math so you don’t have to, if we assume that $21,000 is per year, which given the size of the American Diner is the most reasonable assumption, that means his payroll has increased by just over $400 a week.
But since that wage increase didn’t go into effect until last December, and the Tassones committed their fraud over five years ago, it wasn’t a case of them trying to get something back for the extra money they were paying in wages. Michael Tassone is simply the latest example of a right-wing hypocrite who wanted to get a benefit for himself — illegally — that he would like to take away from those who really need it.
Here’s a report on Tassone’s diner, via Syracuse.com:
Featured image via Syracuse.com/Syracuse Police Department