Taxing our patience
It's easy come, easy go for the federal bureaucrats who oversee our tax dollars.
Those who are skeptical of assurances that the federal government wisely handles their tax dollars had their suspicions confirmed at a congressional hearing.
By its own admission, the federal government made $100 billion in improper payments last year through a combination of mistakes that include fraud, clerical errors and poor enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service. The estimated loss to taxpayers over the past five years is in excess of $500 billion.
IRS chief John Koskinen promised members of a House committee that ameliorating the problem is an "important issue" and that his agency is making substantial progress dealing with the problem.
Well, it couldn't be making too much progress if the federal government is mistakenly paying out $100 billion a year. But Koskinen points out that the bum payments peaked at $121 billion in 2010.
It is unfortunate, but an unmistakable demonstration of human nature, that programs designed to help people in need are magnets for fraud artists.
The earned income tax credit was intended to provide incentives for low-income people to obtain and maintain employment. It does that, but fraudulent claims for the tax credit account for 24 percent of government expenditures — $14.5 billion last year.
It's the same for Medicaid, another $14.5 billion in improper payments last year. Unemployment insurance accounted for another $6.2 billion in improper payments and Supplemental Insurance Income (Social Security disability) cost another $4.3 billion.
Government bureaucrats can promise to solve these kind of problems. But their pledges ring false.
These government programs are so large, involve so much money, require so much paperwork and such large bureaucracies to oversee that they are easy targets for fraud artists. If they weren't, they wouldn't be hemorrhaging money.