In Washington, DC, today, the House and Senate voted to end the furloughs on Transportation Safety Administration employees and then, skipped town. I wish they’d stuck around a little longer to deal with the growing Federal budget by cutting at least some of the tax waste and fraud in the news.
I know that much of the problem is due to State grants and poor over-site, like the Texas braces scandal, but the money comes from the Federal taxes. As long as they’re dealing with one sequelae of the “sequester,” why not deal with waste and fraud? There have been hearings, but where are the Federal laws and charges — or actual changes in regulation?
Today, the New York Times reported that New York State has suspended enrollment in their adult day care centers because of fraud and abuse (at the cost of $93 per person, per day):
Not a wheelchair or walker was in sight at these so-called social adult day care centers. Yet the cost of attendance was indirectly being paid by Medicaid, under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s sweeping redesign of $2 billion in spending on long-term care meant for the impaired elderly and those with disabilities.
The National Institutes of Health was under the microscope last month, where grants were criticized for being politically motivated (WingRight wrote on tobacco and tea party “astroturf”) and/or wasteful (why lesbians drink too much).
(Here’s a list of a few more examples of “Obscene Government Waste”:
— The government spends $1.7 billion for maintenance on empty buildings it owns, although some sources put the figure at closer to $25 billion. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that 55,000 properties are underutilized or entirely vacant.
— The federal government owns approximately one-third of all U.S. land. It does not need more land and it could be argued that it should not own 80% of Nevada and Alaska, and more than half of Idaho. That said, it wants to spend $2.3 billion to purchase more land and the National park Service currently has a backlog of maintenance tasks totaling $5 billion. These include parks that the Obama administration was saying would all have to be closed down because of a sequester reduction of a mere 1.2% of all federal spending.
— Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano was issuing statements about the sequestration cuts to her department, but according to Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, the department has $9 billion in unspent preparedness funds. How much of that will be spent on purchasing more DHS ammunition? They have already purchased enough to shoot every American five times.
— Republican lawmakers in Congress took the sequester fear-mongering as an opportunity to note, as Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) said, “There are pots of money sitting in different departments across the federal government, that have been authorized over either a number of months or years.”
— Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a leading budget hawk who identified programs to fund a space ship to another solar system, funds for advancements in beef jerky from France, and $6 billion for research to find out what lessons about democracy and decision-making can be learned—from fish!
— While you’re trying to figure out how to pay your 2012 taxes, give a thought to the National Science Foundation $350,000 grant to Perdue University researchers on how to improve your golf game.
— Not to be outspent, the National Institutes of Health gave a $940,000 grant to researchers who found that the production of pheromones in—wait for it—fruit flies, declines over time. Turns out that male fruit flies were more attracted to younger female fruit flies. The NIH also paid researchers to find out why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they’re drunk and spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing” program on men in South Africa. You can’t make up this stuff.
— For reasons that defy sanity, various elements of the government have spent $3 million for research on video games; $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly; a whopping $500 million on a program that would, among other things, try to figure out why five-year-olds “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom; and grants such as $1.8 million on a “museum of neon signs” in Las Vegas, Nevada.
— Sanity does not apply to the $2 billion given annually to U.S. farmers to not farm their land. Don’t even ask about the Defense Department. It has long been famous for waste.
While all this has been going on, in 2010 the Office of Management and Budget determined that $47.9 billion was spent on fraudulent or improper payments in Medicare and the problem still hasn’t been fixed, though the cost is now up to $62 billion. There’s been $2.7 billion in fraud and mismanagement of the food-stamp program.