One hundred billion dollars isn’t chump change.
That’s the official amount of overpayments not recovered made by the federal government. According to the Financial Times, as reported on MoneyNews.com, “The OMB figures showed that in 2012 alone, 13 programs of the federal government made a combined $101.3 billion in improper payments – nearly $16 billion more than the highly charged budget sequester ended up cutting from government spending last year.”
Medicare overpayments make up the biggest slice of this mis-proportioned pie — a whopping $55.9 billion — but “the Internal Revenue Service had the highest error rate, a figure of 22.7 percent for the Earned Income Tax Credit program, amounting to $12.6 billion in improper payments in 2012.” Other agencies nudged up the numbers into the big time category: $6.2 billion for inappropriate unemployment insurance payments last year, $2.5 billion in mistaken “food stamp” outlays.
And just when you think the government has to be good at something. Like “writing checks” to some people at the expense of others.
Well, I guess the government is still “writing checks” and “making deposits.”
Just not doing it well.
The reason? Well, who would lose his or her job because his or her department disbursed funds to the wrong recipients? No one.
The federal workers administering these programs aren’t stupid. Aren’t dolts, or fools — that is, “chumps.” They’re simply behaving according to incentives.
Still, the more-than-chump-change errors make the city itself rather doltish. Call it Dolt City, shorten it to D.C.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.