Obama Years, Boomtime for Improper Benefit Payments


This Government Accountability Office report on improper payments through government programs — the much-mentioned “waste, fraud, and abuse” in benefit programs — makes for interesting reading.  Note the huge jump from 2007 to 2009:



To some extent, the upward swing simply reflects the growth in such programs with the combined causes of a significant economic recession and the election of a big-government progressive president, whose party controlled both chambers of Congress during both of those years.  Rhode Island’s a bit of a uniquely unhealthy example, but the SNAP participation highlighted in this space last week illustrates the larger trend.  The upward jump in improper payments last year, however, isn’t explained by a recession or a unitary Democrat federal government.

According to a pie chart in the GAO report, nearly half (48%) of the improper payments in 2014 were made via the Medicare program for the elderly, followed by the earned income tax credit (14.2%) and Medicaid (14.0%) programs for the financially troubled.  The rest (23.7%) comes from all the other programs, such as SNAP, unemployment insurance, supplemental security income, and school lunches.

The report gives suggestions for reducing the bleeding of money through these programs, but none would be as effective as shrinking their overall size, nothing would accomplish that as well as improving people’s opportunities, and nothing would create opportunity as well as lower taxes and increased freedom.  What the chart above arguably most illustrates is that progressive policies will put a society in a self-reinforcing downward spiral every time.

  • Mike678

    Progressives are often ethically challenged, perhaps due to the general avoidance of judgement (no culture is better than another) and an ‘ends justify the means’ attitude. Corruption and crime often increase under their rule: See NYC as an example.

  • fair and balanced?

    Justin, unless you provide the readers with a line plotting total benefits over the same time period your selective presentation of the “facts” will continue to be viewed as just more partisan nonsense.

    Don’t worry, I fully expect my post to get “lost”.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      The strangest thing about your comment is that you appeal to my desire for credibility, but it’s absolutely clear that there is zero chance you’ll every credit anything I write, no matter how many facts I include. I don’t particularly care about your comments, but it’s downright weird.

      The GAO report (to which I’d accidentally neglected to link; it’s there, now) doesn’t provide those numbers, and a brief blog post doesn’t justify the time to dig into a decade of numbers from a variety of government programs. If it’s “partisan nonsense” from me, then I suppose you have to attack the GAO on the same basis.

      You should have noticed, though, that I acknowledge that the increase results, to some degree, from the fact that the programs have grown. Indeed, that’s why I argue that progressive policies create a downward spiral… not because of improper payments, but because the welfare programs steer people away from productive activity and toward government dependence.

      It sure would be nice if you’d at least try to engage people with whom you disagree in discussion. I guess you prefer your own partisan nonsense.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      By the way, I had reason to look at the numbers for something that I’m writing, and it looks like the larger part of the increased improper payments is not simply the increased size of the programs, but actually an increase in the rate of improper payments. Sorry to disappoint you, oh, anonymous commenter.

  • kevin

    2007 is the beginning of the greatest recession?–looks like those in the know grabbed for a brass ring : what demographic started taking advantage early 2008

  • kevin

    2014 RI was pushing people to join the Medicare program to make the 200,000,000 Mil. health care Rhode Island appear to be doing well. instead of the farce it was. the 200 million was Carte Blanch Federal Funds for not joining “Obamacare” and the State Thinking they could run it more efficiently.