“Because the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make. It’s really important that people understand that. We all want to reduce the deficit.” – Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) explaining why Congress couldn’t come up with a plan to lower deficits last year.
Each time talk about cutting welfare waste comes up in Congress, the left cries that fiscal conservatives are trying to kill the poor. And when ideas about cutting government waste by eliminating bureaucratic employees are mentioned, fiscal hawks are told that the Nation simply couldn’t exist without so many (now costlier) Federal workers.
But two recent reports prove that there’s plenty left to cut in Washington.
A Washington Times analysis out Tuesday revealed that the Federal government has spent 25 percent of fiscal 2014, which began on Oct. 1, closed for business.
Via the report:
Offices have been closed in whole or in part for 27 of the 105 weekdays so far in the fiscal year, according to a Washington Times analysis of announcements from the federal Office of Personnel Management that found the government was closed for 21 days because of the shutdown, snow days or holidays. Delayed openings or unscheduled leave and telework policies were in effect for six more days.
Congress is the worst offender when it comes to time away from the main office.
Neither the House nor the Senate has worked a full Monday-to-Friday workweek in 2014.
House members have been in session for 17 of the 35 weekdays so far this year, less than 50 percent. Senators have met in full session for 18 days, slightly better than 50 percent.
The second report, from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, uses 2012 data from the Office of Management and Budget’s “High-Error Programs Report” to illustrate how the government made in excess of $100 billion in improper Federal payments to welfare recipients that year.
Here’s a little information from that report:
Some programs, like the Social Security Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) programs, have improper payment amounts that are relatively high when compared to their improper payment rate. While $3.2 billion was improperly spent on Social Security benefit payments in 2012, the large overall amount of benefit payments made by the agency ($785.8 billion in 2012) means that the improper payment rate is only 0.4 percent.
Other programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), not only have a high improper payment amount but also a relatively high improper payment rate. The $12.6 billion in misspent EITC outlays represents a substantial portion, 22.7 percent, of total EITC spending—suggesting that the EITC is prone to fraud, waste, and abuse. As the chart displays, Medicare Advantage (Part C), Unemployment Insurance (UI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) face problems similar to the EITC, with anywhere approximately from one in nine to one in eleven dollars in these programs being disbursed improperly.
The three largest programs in terms of improper spending amounts are all health-care related. Medicare Fee-for-Service, Medicare Advantage (Part C), and Medicaid top the chart with a combined $61.9 billion in improper payments. As economist Timothy Taylor points out, these high improper funding amounts are of particular concern in light of the federal government’s expanded intervention in health-care markets, as improper payments may likely plague new federal health programs as well.
If, as Pelosi claimed, the cupboard is bare, it is so because Americans have allowed rats to guard the cheese.