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Entitlement Abuse - Here, There, and Everywherre

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President Obama and other Democrat leaders in Washington are spending their time trying to figure out ways to continue expanding entitlement benefits.  They tell us that these benefits are needed to provide a myriad of services to an ever-growing percentage of the population that could not make it on their own.  Republicans, correctly, point out that the nation can no longer afford ever-expanding largess and now borrows 40 cents of every dollar to pay for a too-generous welfare and entitlement system.

The dirty little secret that almost no one in Washington is willing to discuss is the rampant fraud that is embedded in the entitlement system.  Democrats, led by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid, never discuss the high percentage of fraudulent payments in entitlement programs.  Instead, they continue the mantra that entitlement spending must be preserved even in the face of exploding national debt, and regardless of disturbing signs of rampant fraud. 

Increasingly, we hear jaw dropping stories of abuse and fraud that should force our leaders in Washington to put the issue of fraud and abuse within the entitlement system formally on the table.  Just last week we learned of the case of the “Adult Baby” , the 30-year old guy, that lives in a diaper, is fed by bottle and  thus somehow entitled to taxpayer-supplied, social security disability for his condition.  Strangely, this is the very entitlement system that Obama and Democrats not only insist that we preserve, but are anxious to expand.

The case of the “adult baby” is a sad indicator of just how much fraud is already embedded into our rich entitlement system and how easy it has become for hucksters and fakes to gain access to taxpayer provided benefits.   Currently, there are almost 2,000 federal subsidy / entitlement programs, and we know from GAO reports and from anecdotal reporting that fraud is rampant. 

Despite two decades of topping government lists (GAO) for waste, fraud and abuse, Medicare, Medicaid, housing assistance, Food Stamps (SNAP) and several other entitlement programs continue to expand even as reports of fraud plague the system.  

Democrats mindlessly push for further expansion of benefits, as the number of those eligible for Food stamps has nearly doubled in during the Obama Administration, costing some $77 billion.  Worse yet, Democrats see no urgency, and might very well be completely comfortable, with the disturbing news that food stamps are now being routinely resold at deep discounts to other undeserving recipients

From the glimpses we do get from what lurks behind the curtain, it is becoming increasingly clear that fraud in the entitlement system is likely a trillion dollar problem.  Not long ago, we learned that in West Virginia, a Social Security Administrative judge approves virtually all applicants seeking Social Security disability claims. Moreover, this judge is almost certainly not alone in granting benefits to non-deserving frauds whose real ambition is to gain taxpayer money for fictitious disability claims. 

But do not expect Democrats or Team Obama to conduct a real inquiry to discover, much less prevent , fraud in the entitlement system   They do not want Americans to know just how corrupt and easy it is for duplicitous individuals to gain benefits and taxpayer support  to which they are not entitled.  If Americans were to understand fully rampant entitlement cheating has become, the debate would quickly turn to fixing the corrupt system, and rooting out the frauds and hucksters that are bilking American taxpayers. 

Nevertheless, to get a glimpse of just how rampant fraud has become, conduct your own experiment.   Just go to your local grocery store or shopping center and take a look at the number of healthy and vigorous people that use the special parking places reserved for handicapped parking.  I did, and quickly discovered that over 50% of the people using those special parking places reserved for handicapped people looked healthy and moved vigorously.  Few had any noticeable disability.  One 30 year-old man, pulled up in a convertible, jumped out and went on his way, comfortable in the fact that a blue Handicapped tag hung from the mirror in his car. 

Handicapped parking was a good and humane idea that has become a victim of seemingly widespread abuse. The obvious point is that if fraud exists in something as simple as parking, with the only benefit being one of convenience, then how much more fraud might there be in entitlements that carry financial gain?  (Think trillions of dollars).

The budget debate in Washington, and Team Obama’s insistence, that entitlements must be preserved ignores 22 years of GAO fraud reports.  Once Americans have conducted an informal “Handicapped Parking Experiment”, they are going to become convinced that instead of expanding entitlements, more effort needs to be made towards uncovering the fraud now embedded within the system. 

Tackling the issue of entitlement fraud and eliminating entitlement scams could well be the quickest and best short-term solution with long-term results that the government could implement.  Whether talking about Obamacare or Medicaid, Food Stamps, home mortgage loan insurance or SSI, at a minimum, perhaps it’s time for our government to do an honest audit of who is receiving the benefits. 

Before any further expansion of entitlements, the government needs to prove to the American taxpayer that their dollars are being spent wisely and as intended, before trying to bilk taxpayers for even more funds for these flawed programs.

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