In 2016 federal government improperly paid out $144 billion

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Our government in action! In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, the controller general revealed that the federal government improperly paid out $144 billion in 2016.

The problem is growing, he said, from $125 billion in 2014; to $137 billion in 2015; to the most recent estimate of $144 billion in 2016. “This includes estimates for 112 programs at 22 federal agencies, so it is a pervasive problem,” he added.

Since 2003 – when Congress required many executive departments and agencies to estimate the amount of improper payments annually – the cumulative total is estimated to be “in excess of $1.2 trillion,” Dodaro said. “So it’s a significant amount of money.” Dodaro said three big federal programs – Medicare, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit — account for most (75 percent) of the improper payments. “But there are a number of programs across government where this problem is an issue,” he said.

And the problem is worse than the numbers indicate, because 18 “risk-susceptible” programs – including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — do not report estimates at all. SNAP (food stamps) stopped reporting in 2015. And the $144 billion in 2016 does not include estimates from the Defense Department, which could be a sizeable number, Dodaro said.

Obviously, the solution is to hire more auditors and increase the budgets at these agencies so they can better track the improper payments. Simply cutting these budgets, well now, that’s a terrible idea.



  • Cotour

    I think this establishes that the Federal Government just has access too much of the people’s money. Period.

    3.3 TRILLION in revenue.

    3.9 TRILLION in spending.

    144 BILLION is, if my calculation is correct 4.75 % of 3.3 TRILLION? 5.6% of 3.9 TRILLION. You can eat up 144 billion or 5% at this level just in producing the paper work that documents the budget.

  • wayne

    Cotour remarked–
    “…the Federal Government just has access too much of the people’s money.”

    >Good stuff.

    (grammatically dubious, but I know exactly what you mean and I agree fully.)

    One of the issues a Convention of States could address, is the 16th Amendment. Original equipment specifications, were highly dubious of ‘direct taxation,’ unless proportioned by population.
    (It remains my contention, the Federal Government is incapable of restraining itself, and one method to shrink the State, is to starve it of the ability to tax us to this extent.)

  • Cotour

    Wayne: The evidence. Government can not have access to too much of the peoples money.

    As a matter of fact they will access a acquire it all if allowed to, government knows no limit.

    Seeing that the founders understood this soooo comprehensively is just one more demonstration of their collective brilliance. This codified understanding of the nature of man and governance course has been perverted as they knew would happen and so the battle continues, on and on forever. It will never be anything other than what it is.

  • wayne

    Repeal the 16th Amendment!

    Backgrounder on “unapportioned taxation.”

  • Cotour

    Thats why I phrased my observation about taxation in the way that I did: ” the Federal Government just has access too much of the people’s money.”

    How does the government legally gain access to the peoples money and how do they create the legal obligation for the people to become obligated to pay?

    This legal access to the peoples money should have its limits, but in fact it does not and it is unlimited and so it represents a threat to the peoples freedom and liberty. Taxation? Sure, the reasonable funds to reasonably run the government is a necessary obligation, but there is no reasoning going on here. Just another example of the two conversations that go on where the people once again fool themselves into believing that the government is reasonable, just, moral etc. IT IS NOT!

  • Garry

    Cotour wrote,

    “Wayne: The evidence. Government can not have access to too much of the peoples money.

    I can’t read the article (apparently I’ve met my quota of free articles I can read this month and I refuse to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal), but I could read enough to say that the presise of the article is based on what the Governor has said.

    I’ve stopped believing anything the Governor says long ago. The causes of Connecticut’s fiscal problems predate him, but he’s made things even worse, and he has a long history of doing the opposite of what he says he will do.

    To me, Governor Malloy will always be defined by the 13-mile busway from New Britain to Hartford, which cost $500,000,000 to construct. Quick math shows that it would have been cheaper to hire each projected bus rider over the next 20 years his/her own limo, than it was to build the busway.

    His argument was that it was mostly federal money, which is true, but that’s our money too, and the state share was still astronomically high.

    One of our state senators (who I the last conservative politician left in Connecticut) went so far as to visit Washington DC to try to get Boehner to drop the funding (unsurprisingly, Boehner refused to make any effort to stop the funding).

    Malloy has also, on several occasions, spent hundreds of millions of dollars to keep hundreds of jobs in the state.

    I expect him to propose tax increases on small business owners, and try to work what additional tax revenue he can from “the rich,” all the while shoveling more and more money to his cronies in the unions and in big business (but not the daycare providers, who were unionized largely against their will).

  • Cotour

    Gary, if you did not see my making the distinction between what truth in politricks actually is I will restate it for you to think about.

    “There is not truth in politics, there is only policy and strategy.”

    In writing the first sentence I misspelled the word politics, it came out to read “Politricks”. I left the misspelled word as it is serindipidousely appropriate. When the universe speaks to you, learn to listen.

    This is more evidence of Strategy Over Morality (S.O.M.) theory where there are actually two conversations underway but the public can only see one from their perspective. There is not truth in politics and there is only the appearance of morality in government, it is in fact optional in this context.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “As a matter of fact they will access a acquire it all if allowed to, government knows no limit.

    As your Connecticut article may have pointed out (I, too, could not read it), neither the rich nor the middle class can pay for all the spending that the government has done — and the poor obviously can’t, either. There is only so much wealth available, and as other countries have also discovered it is all too easy to run out of other people’s money. In this case, the government spends We the People’s money — in the government’s collective mind, we are the other people.

    Ever since the Sixteenth Amendment, government hasn’t cared whether or not they waste 5% or more of our money (read: other people’s money), as they figure that there is always more where that came from, and they treat us and our money accordingly. Right down to telling us how to spend our own hard earned money. (9 minutes: “Eat the Rich”)

    It is like the Robin Hood and Zorro stories, which show reactions to greedy governments overtaxing their populations.

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