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One Billion of Your Tax Dollars Sent to Dead People

Posted By Brian Darling On October 29, 2010 @ 11:00 am In Economics | Comments Disabled

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Sen.Tom Coburn (R-OK) put out a report [2] today documenting one billion in your tax dollars given to dead people.  Zombies only exist on Halloween, yet dead people received checks from the federal government in the form of stimulus checks, aid to heat homes, housing subsidies, claims for prescription drugs, and medical supplies.

Dead people are haunting the federal government and taking money away from the living. As Coburn writes in the report, with a $1.3 trillion deficit for his year and a $13.6 trillion amassed debt as a nation, tax dollars should be put to a good use.  Coburn writes, “this means spending within our means on the living, not outside our means on the dead.”

A few highlights of the report are as follows:

  • The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in Stimulus funds to 71,688 dead people, including James Hagner [3] who received a check for $250 for his late mother who had passed away in 1967.  This is merely one example of tens of thousands of checks going out to deceased individuals to stimulate the economy.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services doled out checks to 11,000 dead people to the tune of $3.9 million in assistance to pay heating and cooling costs out of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The Government Accounting Office [4] (GAO) issued a report in June of 2010 that argued for greater fraud prevention controls on the program to prevent this same thing from happening in the future.  Federal and state governments do not have adequate protections against people using the identities of dead people to apply for assistance.
  • The Department of Agriculture cranked out checks for $1.1 billion to deceased farmers. The Farm Services Agency (FSA) is the incompetent actor in this scandal.  According to Coburn, the agency has “failed to properly police its programs’ rolls.”  The GAO [5] found in 2007 that the FSA has provided 171,801 deceased farmers in subsidies.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development cut checks for $15.2 million in housing subsidies for 3,995 households with at least one deceased person.  In one case “one agency did not learn of a tenant’s death until it performed an inspection of the tenant’s residence and found another family living in the unit.  The HUD office of the Inspector General [6] put out a report in 2009 documenting an estimated $7 million in money for deceased tenants.

It does not end there. The Coburn Report also documented Medicaid payments of over $700,000 in prescriptions for 1,800 dead patients and prescriptions for drugs written by 1,200 deceased doctors. Also, Medicare payments of $92 million in medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors and $8.2 million for medical supplies prescribed for non-living patients.

When you hear the often repeated line “where would you cut the budget,” Congress and the American people can point to the Coburn Report as a great example of how to cut billions in dead weight from the federal budget.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/10/29/one-billion-of-your-tax-dollars-sent-to-dead-people/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/zombie.jpg

[2] report: http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=243af8a8-7473-442c-82c5-759d675d0364

[3] James Hagner: http://www.wbaltv.com/money/19435100/detail.html

[4] Government Accounting Office: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10621.pdf

[5] GAO: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d071137t.pdf

[6] HUD office of the Inspector General: http://www.hud.gov/offices/oig/reports/files/ig1060001.pdf

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