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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grave concern

We've known for years that politicians use tax dollars to buy votes.

We've also known that sometimes dead people vote.

It was just a matter of time before... well, you guessed it.

Comments (3)

But dead folks can't endorse the check, so it goes stale and the money never leaves the Treasury?

If someone assumes the identity of a dead person, that would seem to be fraud. Unless the estate of a recently deceased person has not been resolved...um....

Good thing I never went into law. More twisty paths than engineering. Make head hurt.

So it had a 0.17% error rate.

2.4 million people die in this country every year. It takes less than 11 days for 72,000 people to die. (CDC, 2007 figures)

700 new inmates every week. (BJS, 2002 figures). Takes 24 weeks for 17,000 new inmates. State reporting on prisons is ... less than perfect.

The REAL story here is that of 72,000 checks going to the deceased, half of the country is poor enough, desperate enough or greedy enough to steal the money. ("The report estimates that a little more than half of those payments were returned.")

Perspective on these things really dilutes the outrage. Coburn can whine about 22 million dollars, which sounds like a lot, until you realize that the program was 13 billion dollars. If only we could all get it right 99.83% of the time ...

Unmentioned in that article was the fact that this isn't something that was limited to the stimulus checks or even the current administration, and that the Obama administration took steps early in the summer to create a "do not pay" list to address this issue. But hey, why do actual reporting, WSJ?


Obama to agencies: Don't pay dead people
Associated Press
06/18/10 2:30 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — Here's an idea, Uncle Sam: Stop writing checks to dead people.

The government sent benefit checks to 20,000 departed Americans over three years, totaling more than $180 million — a remarkable number that provoked the Obama administration to create a government-wide "do not pay" list as part of its brainstorming for ways to save taxpayer money.

Once the database is up and running, agencies will have to search it before sending out payments. A pre-check check, so to speak.

"We're making sure that payments no longer go to the deceased — it sounds ridiculous even to say it," acknowledged Vice President Joe Biden in describing the database.

Also planned for inclusion: contractors who've fallen behind in their payments or, even worse, landed in jail, and companies that have been suspended or otherwise deemed ineligible for government work.

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