How Much Of Our Tax Money Is Wisely Spent?

On Sunday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about fraud in the government’s food stamp program.

The article reports:

According to a new report produced by the Government and Accountability Office (GAO), at least $1 billion in food stamp benefits are “trafficked annually,” meaning they are fraudulently used. The extent of the fraud is uncertain, the GAO warns, estimating the abuse of the program could be as high as $4.7 billion.

About 20 million lower-income households receive benefits from the $64 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, to buy food. But GAO found that instead of being used for food, many stores are defrauding the program by “selling” cash instead of food.

“For example, a store might give a person $50 in exchange for $100 in benefits – then pocket the difference,” GAO explains.

The article explains one possible remedy:

The fraud, known as “retailer trafficking,” costs taxpayers at least $1 billion. However, the real cost could be “anywhere from $960 million to $4.7 billion,” the GAO adds.

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank advocating reform, launched a “Stop the Scam initiative” to raise awareness of the widespread problem.

“Welfare fraud is one of the biggest untold stories of the last decade, robbing resources from the truly needy and eroding public trust in the integrity of our welfare programs,” Sam Adolphsen, vice president of executive affairs at FGA, said in a statement. “While the bad-actor food stamp retailers exposed in this GAO report are in part to blame, we must not lose sight of the accountability that falls upon the food stamp recipient willing to commit fraud and abuse the system.”

The FGA hopes to reduce fraud and abuse at the state level by uncovering discrepancies in each state’s eligibility systems by regularly reviewing their processes.

Public assistance works best when it is closest to the recipient. That way the people providing the assistance know who is in need and who is taking advantage of the program. It also allows those administering the program to spot fraud more easily. Every program in Washington needs to audited for fraud and cleaned up. That alone might make it unnecessary for Congress to raise the debt ceiling every few months.

The article concludes:

Finally, GAO recommended that FNS should “determine the appropriate scope and time frames for reauthorizing high-risk stores,” increase penalties for retail traffickers, and establish performance measures for its trafficking prevention activities.

The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 gave the USDA the authority to strengthen penalties for retailers that commit fraud, but as of November 2018, FNS had not done so.

“By failing to take timely action to strengthen penalties, FNS has not taken full advantage of an important tool for deterring trafficking,” GAO states.

When the GAO confirms what actions FNS has taken in response to its recommendations, it plans to provide updated information to the public, the agency states. It states that the FNS generally agreed with its findings.

The USDA/FNS did not respond to requests to comment for this story.

 

Some Goods News From The Government Accountability Office

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about the Obama Administration’s plan to bail out insurance companies in case of losses due to ObamaCare (see rightwinggranny.com).

The article reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services cannot legally bail out the insurance industry for excessive losses through President Obama’s health care law unless the U.S. Congress approves language allowing the administration to do so, according to a legal opinion released on Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office.

The ruling could end up provoking a showdown between the White House and Congressional Republicans over Obamacare that has the potential to affect health insurance premiums.

The part of ObamaCare that is impacted by this decision is the “risk corridors” program. This is the program that was set up because ObamaCare chose to ignore the concept of the actuary tables that insurance companies use to determine risk and calculate insurance premiums. Under ObamaCare insurers are required to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and limited in how much they can charge older and sicker patients. Like it or not, insurance is a business. Insurance companies need a reasonable profit margin in order to stay in business. When the government skews the actuary tables and fixes rates, the companies cannot exist without government subsidies. Either the subsidies will be paid or America will quickly morph into government health care (we saw how well that worked with the VA).

The article concludes:

In practice, this ruling may not make much of a difference. There’s no guarantee that Republicans will invite a confrontation with Obama over this, fearing that it would allow Democrats to shift blame to the GOP for any premium spikes that would result. The GAO opinion is not legally binding, and the Obama administration could simply choose to ignore it. It’s also possible that this won’t be an issue at all if — as the administration has insisted — payments collected from the program will be sufficient to cover any insurer losses. But the GAO opinion does provide more fuel to the argument of Republicans such as Sessions and Upton that the ultimate authority for covering any excess insurer losses rests with Congress.

Under Obamacare, the risk corridors program is scheduled to be operational for the 2014 through 2016 calendar years.

Unless we elect a Congress with the guts to stand up against this raiding of taxpayer money to support a plan that will not work, we will continue to see government spending grow out of control and government take more and more control of our lives. Your vote counts in November. Think about who and what you choose to support.

An Invitation To Fraud

Yesterday the New York Post posted an article about fraud in ObamaCare. Because of the way ObamaCare is designed, there are ways that people can sign up using fictitious identities and not be immediately discovered.

The article reports:

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says its undercover investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts. The GAO is still paying premiums for the policies, even as the Obama administration attempts to verify phony documentation.

The agency’s findings are contained in testimony to be delivered at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday. An advance copy was provided to The Associated Press.

Seto Bagdoyan, head of GAO audits and investigations, will also testify that there’s still a huge backlog of applications with data discrepancies, even though the administration has resolved some 600,000 cases.

The article lists some of the findings of the GAO:

  • Contractors processing applications for the government told the GAO that their role was not to ferret out potential fraud.
  • Five of six bogus phone applications went through successfully. The one exception involved an applicant who refused to provide a Social Security number.
  • Six online applications were snagged by an identity checking system. But investigators just dialed a call center and all six were approved. That seemed to be an open pathway to coverage.
  • The GAO also tried to check the reliability of counselors providing in-person assistance. In five out of six cases, investigators were unable to get help. In the final case, the counselor correctly told the undercover investigator that their stated income would not entitle them to subsidized coverage.

This is what happens when you have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.

 

Somehow This Just Doesn’t Make Me Feel Safer

CNS News posted a story yesterday that illustrates one way common sense has departed from out government. The headline of the story is “ICE Released 2,837 Convicted Alien Sex Offenders.”

The article reports:

The 2,837 sex offenders represented five percent of the 59,347 deportable aliens that have been released from detention under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the GAO (Government Accountability Office) report, which was released Thursday.

“There are circumstances in which criminal aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States – including those convicted of a sex offense – cannot be removed,” the report states. “For example, a criminal alien may not be removed because the designated country will not accept the alien’s return.”

The obvious question here is, “Why didn’t we just keep them is jail?”

In explaining why ICE was required to release these criminals, the GAO referred to the 2001 Supreme Court case Zadvydas v. Davis. In that case the court ruled that the indefinite detention of removable aliens for greater than six months is unconstitutional unless there is “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.” I guess I don’t understand why the fact that the person had committed a crime might be a more important reason for detaining them than the fact that they are here illegally.

The article reports:

“According to the data that ICE-ERO provided to us,” said the GAO report, “of 4359 alien sex offenders who were removed from the country between January and August 2012, 220 of them (5 percent) had previously been removed but subsequently returned to the United States and were arrested for another offense.”

Also, about five percent of released aliens sex offenders did not register as sex offenders in the communities where they settled as required by federal law. “The risk that alien sex offenders will reside in U.S. communities without being registered is increased,” the GAO concluded.

It seems as if we are extending rights to illegal aliens that American citizens do not have.

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Somehow The Media Missed This Story

Breitbart.com is reporting today that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has stated that the changes that President Obama made to the work requirements in the welfare reform act passed during the Clinton administration are illegal.

The article reports:

In its Sept. 4 letter, the GAO found that Health and Human Services (HHS) should have formally submitted a letter of its intent to make the changes to Congress and the Comptroller General before any waivers can be legally issued.

The letter also said that the GAO had not determined if HHS had the legal right to even make such waivers available. The GAO is basically saying that the Obama administration is breaking the law with its waivers.

But, according to a review of the shocking news of the GAO’s determination, neither CNN, nor CBS, nor ABC have bothered to report the story.

It’s stories like these that show the need for the alternative media.

President Obama has stated that the changes in the waivers were made at the request of Republican Governors, but those governors have denied that they requested a change, stating that they only asked for clarification.

The real question here is whether or not Congress is willing to stand up to the President and uphold the Constitution.

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Defunding The Cats So The Mice Can Play

US-GeneralAccountingOffice-Seal

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At the end of September, the Washington Examiner posted an article about attempts by the Democrats in the Senate to defund the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO is a non-partisan group that looks for government waste.

The article reports:

Seven months ago, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a landmark report identifying at least $200 billion in wasteful, duplicative, and fraudulent government programs.

This is simply downright inconvenient. The article reports the Democrat response to this information:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said the report, “shows all kinds of redundancies and overlapping.  Those are places we can cut money.  Let’s do it.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, agreed.: “Again, we all agree we have to get rid of waste, fraud, abuse, duplication, obsolescence, and the rest. The GAO has given us a blueprint for that, and we subscribe to that.  We all agree that we must reduce the deficit, and the fiscal commission has given us a road map for that.  We can agree or disagree with some of it; but the fact is it gives us a blueprint for how to go forward, and we should take heed of that.”

Yet, in the last seven months, Congress has failed to send a single cut identified by GAO to the president’s desk.  Even worse, instead of cutting the spending identified by GAO, the Senate Appropriations Committee is now proposing to slash funding for GAO itself.

Somehow that is not surprising. Congress has not passed a budget in more than two years, despite being required by law to do so. Please follow the link to the Washington Examiner to see the games the Democrats in the Senate are playing with the GAO in an attempt to avoid being held accountable for their runaway spending.

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