Improper US Government Payments Hit $98 Billion

Improper US Government Payments Hit $98 Billion

Published: Wednesday, 18 Nov 2009 | 3:49 AM ET

By: Reuters

Improper payments by the U.S. government to people, firms and contractors rose sharply to $98 billion in fiscal 2009 and President Barack Obama plans new rules to clamp down, the White House said Tuesday.

Over half the mistakes were made in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and although some of the deterioration reflected stricter measurement, it also showed the need for healthcare reform, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag told reporters.

Improper payments in the Medicare and Medicaid programs totaled $55 billion in fiscal 2009, according to documents provided by OMB.

Medicare covers healthcare for the elderly and some disabled, while Medicaid does the same for the poor.

Orszag said the error rate for payments under Medicare Advantage, where private insurers offer coverage to Medicare beneficiaries, jumped to 15 percent, or to $12 billion, in fiscal 2009. The error rate was 10 percent in fiscal 2008.

“This was not the result of methodological changes. This is one of the reasons why, as part of health reform, we believe there are crucial changes necessary to the Medicare Advantage program,” he said on a telephone conference call.

 

Obama has made overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry his top domestic policy goal, pledging to expand medical coverage to millions of the uninsured and make healthcare more affordable.

Orszag stressed that tougher measurement, as well as higher government spending due to the recession, explained a big part of the jump in government waste.

The government made improper payments of $72 billion in the 2008 financial year. Fraud may also be partly to blame.

But Orszag stressed that the lack of tools to identify how much fell into this category made it impossible to estimate the size of the problem.

One exception to this rule was fraud connected with improper payments under unemployment insurance, which OMB said added up to around one-fifth of the $12 billion in improper payments in that program.

 

omniNate


Obama will sign a new executive order within a week to improve transparency and to encourage people to play straight, Orszag said.

Part of this effort will aim to explore imposing penalties on anyone who knowingly gets an improper payment — for instance if they get paid twice for the same thing.

At the moment, all recipients have to do is return the money.

“It goes without saying that these results would be completely unacceptable in the private sector, as they should be in government, especially at a time of record deficits,” said Democratic Senator Tom Carper, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on federal financial management.

“Unfortunately, these numbers may still be just the tip of the iceberg since they don’t even include estimates for several major programs, including the Medicare prescription drug plan,” Carper said in a statement.

Obama: Too much debt could fuel double-dip recession– you think $12,031,299,186,290.07…

Obama: Too much debt could fuel double-dip recession

 $12,031,299,186,290.07…

BEIJING, Nov 18 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession.

With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, Obama told Fox News his administration faces a delicate balance of trying to boost the economy and spur job creation while putting the economy on a path toward long-term deficit reduction.

His administration was considering ways to accelerate economic growth, with tax measures among the options to give companies incentives to hire, Obama said in the interview with Fox conducted in Beijing during his nine-day trip to Asia.

“It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession,” he said.

Fox News, which released a transcript of the interview, showed that comment by Obama on Wednesday morning and said the full discussion would be broadcast later in the day. (Reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by John O’Callaghan)

Islamic Terrorist Nidal Hasan on Presidential Task Force

Islamic Terrorist Nidal Hasan on Presidential Task Force

Lance Fairchok

The news that Dr. Nidal Hasan served on a Presidential Transition task force and helped set national security priorities continues to be ignored by the media. It reveals the extent to which political ideology has crippled common sense in the conduct of national security affairs, leaving us vulnerable to our sworn enemies.

In the proceedings report for the Presidential Transition Task Force entitled, “Thinking Anew — Security Priorities for the Next Administration,” in APPENDIX C Task Force Event Participants, on page 29, we find the name of Nidal Hasan, Uniformed Services University School of Medicine.  This is the same Nidal Hasan, Major, US Army, who murdered and maimed fellow soldiers at Ft Hood.  This is the same Nidal Hasan who had been spouting Jihadist rhetoric and defending radical Islam for years without disciplinary action or censure.  This is the same Nidal Hasan who communicated with Islamic radicals and was tracked by the FBI.
Political correctness and group exceptionalism let him, and probably others, skip by.  Fear of the never materializing “backlash” against Muslims just because a few radicals kill people results in de-facto blinders.  If he were a member of a militia however, he would have been out.  The DOD’s security clearance questionnaire asks about militia membership, but not a peep about radical or violent Islamic groups.
You can see Hasan acknowledged (page 32 here), but it is worthwhile reading the document. But be prepared to get angry.  The authors and participants are serious. How safe should we feel?
George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute published the document.  The executive summary starts out full of hope and change:
The nation is in the midst of a crossroads in its consideration of security policy.  A coherent strategy to address 21st century threats to the United States, one that treats national and homeland security as a seamless whole, has yet to emerge.  Washington is now marked by a new Administration, a new tone, and a new space – offering a rare opportunity to catch our collective breath, to think creatively and anew about the most vexing challenges this country faces, and to put the most powerful of those reasoned ideas into action.
A new tone of reasoned ideas put into action. The arrogance is breathtaking, coming from the crowd whose inclusiveness and diversity extended to an out of the closet Islamist.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/11/islamic_terrorist_nidal_hasan.html at November 18, 2009 – 03:24:12 PM EST

Obama Changes the Subject — What Muslim problems? I don’t see no Muslim problem

Obama Changes the Subject

November 17th, 2009

By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN, New York Post

Obama is playing politics with the Fort Hood shooting and KSM

As he flew to Asia on Saturday, President Obama told the media in Alaska that he opposes a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood massacre, saying that we must “resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into political theater.” Yet, even as he was posturing against political theatrics, he had just decided that the prosecution of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would proceed on the greatest of public stages — New York City.

With the strict evidentiary rules in force in federal civilian courts, it is easy to see how the prosecution of Mohammed could morph into an indictment of the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques and waterboarding. As in rape trials, the magnitude of the underlying crime (masterminding the 9/11 attacks) might well be lost as the defense puts the victim (in this case, the government) on trial.

It is not political theater itself to which Obama objects — but theater that highlights issues that liberals would rather forget. He is quite content to let the Mohammed trial become the theater of the left. Perhaps even eager.

Obama and his handlers know that the key to building favorable ratings is to control the agenda. And the more the national discussion centers on national security and terrorism, the more Republicans gain. So the Fort Hood terror attack comes at an awful time for an administration trying to turn the nation’s attention away from the terrorist threat.

Read More:

Back on Uncle Sam’s Plantation

 This is a pretty good commentary on our present situation!  If a white person had written it, it would probably be considered extremely racial,  but since the writer is black and admittedly a product of the “welfare state”, she’s a person speaking from experience. Back on Uncle Sam’s PlantationStar Parker – Syndicated Columnist

    http://townhall.com/columnists/StarParker/2009/02/09/back_on_uncle_sams_plantation

    http://townhall.com/Common/PrintPage.aspx?g=82184c26-9cd8-4983-bdf8-69d019df2036&t=c

Six years ago I wrote a book called Uncle Sam’s Plantation.  I wrote the book to tell my own story of what I saw living inside the welfare state and my own transformation out of it.

 I said in that book that indeed there are two Americas — a poor America on socialism and a wealthy America on capitalism.

 I talked about government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps.

A vast sea of perhaps well-intentioned government programs, all initially set into motion in the 1960s by Democrats, that were going to lift the nation’s poor out of poverty.

 A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation.  Those who accepted the invitation switched mindsets from “How do I take care of myself?” to “What do I have to do to stay on the plantation?”

Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems — the kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others.

The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families.

Through God’s grace, I found my way out.  It was then that I understood what freedom meant and how great this country is. 

 I had the privilege of working on welfare reform in 1996 which was passed by a Republican controlled Congress.

 I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor black communities and replacing it with wealth-producing American capitalism.

But, incredibly, we are now going in the opposite direction.

Instead of poor America on socialism becoming more like rich American on capitalism, rich America on capitalism is becoming like poor America on socialism.

 Uncle Sam has welcomed our banks onto the plantation and they have said, “Thank you, Suh.”

Now, instead of thinking about what creative things need to be done to serve customers, they are thinking about what they have to tell Massah in order to get their cash.

There is some kind of irony that this is all happening under our first black president on the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Worse, socialism seems to be the element of our new young president.  And maybe even more troubling, our corporate executives seem happy to move onto the plantation.

In an op-Ed on the opinion page of the Washington Post, Mr. Obama is clear that the goal of his trillion dollar spending plan is much more than short term economic stimulus.

“This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending — it’s a strategy for America ‘s long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, healthcare, and education.”

Perhaps more incredibly, Obama seems to think that government taking over an economy is a new idea.  Or that massive growth in government can take place “with unprecedented transparency and accountability.”

Yes, sir, we heard it from Jimmy Carter when he created the Department of Energy, the Synfuels Corporation, and the Department of Education.

Or how about the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 — The War on Poverty — which President Johnson said “…does not merely expand old programs or improve what is already being done.  It charts a new course.  It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty.”

Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same.  But black families are not, with triple the incidence of single-parent homes and out-of-wedlock births.

It’s not complicated.  Americans can accept Barack Obama’s invitation to move onto the plantation.  Or they can choose personal responsibility and freedom.

Does anyone really need to think about what the choice should be?

“The trouble with socialism is that you eventually do run out of other people’s money.”

NOW FORWARD THIS…

Sarah Amazing

Sarah Amazing

James Lewis

I felt real pain when Governor Sarah Palin was trashed over and over again by hateful screaming libs last year — just to demonstrate their vaunted compassion and tolerance, docha know? So they roundly assaulted her Down Syndrome child, her pregnant daughter, exploited her daughter’s sleazeball boyfriend, ginned up false accusations in Alaska, and somebody burned down her church in Wasilla. Raging feminists around the country were ready to tear Sarah’s hair out by the roots. A real media lynch mob.

It just proves beyond a shadow of doubt how the Left keeps boiling over with hatred and bigotry against normal, decent people. So-called “progressives” are just today’s Stalinists. Not really nice people, you might say. More like fascist haters.
But I need not have worried. Sarah Barracuda has ‘em by the short hairs. Those howls of rage you keep hearing are being hurled just because Sarah is smiling and beautiful, and she’s not yielding an inch to the Commissars of Political Correctness. She drives ‘em over the edge by being herself.
It is an amazing spectacle to behold. Governor Palin is the anti-Obama, and just as Obama is their crazed love object, she is just the opposite, a sort of Satanic dominatrix in their overheated fantasy lives. As they keep attacking our all-American beauty they end up making her more and more famous and admired. Wow.
I’m almost beginning to enjoy watching these nasties breaking their heads against Fortress Sarah. If Palin just keeps her own counsel, like Ronald Reagan did thirty years ago, decent Americans of all stripes will open their hearts to her.  As for her snarling enemies, they show their true nature just by trying to fling more mud. But none of it sticks.
Watching liberals ranting against Sarah is like watching Snidely Whiplash roping down Poor Nell on those railroad tracks, with the steam locomotive bearing down on her. Except that Palin doesn’t even have to do anything. Poor Nell just keeps smiling that big, beautiful smile, while Snidely gets run over by the train. And it keeps happening.
I’m speechless. It’s awesome. All we have to do is watch it happen.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/11/sarah_amazing.html at November 18, 2009 – 10:55:02 AM EST

The Coming Jihadi Trial Disaster

The Coming Jihadi Trial Disaster

By J.R. Dunn

Forget the media chin-stroking and head-scratching. The intentions behind the administration’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his sideboys in Manhattan could not be clearer. Simply put, Obama wishes to Mirandize the entire murderous crew.
I’m using that term as shorthand for the liberal tendency — not to say “compulsion” — to treat all underdogs as victims no matter what the circumstances. In the liberal worldview, criminals are the ultimate underdogs, romantic rebels with all the power of society ranged against them. The liberal role in this regard is to help even the odds, to protect and nurture the criminal so that his more “worthwhile” aspects — whatever those might be — aren’t simply snuffed out by a vengeful society. This paradigm has governed the way that criminals have been treated since at least the 1950s.
By redefining Islamist terrorists as “criminals”, liberals have automatically retrofitted them with “victim” status, endowing them with all the rights and privileges granted to American street hoodlums. If the record is any indication, this is going to end far more badly than anyone can now foresee.
Criminal justice reform was a major pillar of liberal utopianism during the postwar period. American liberals wanted to “humanize” the treatment of criminals, under the impression that this would in and of itself end crime. As in so much else involving the liberal program, criminal justice reform was a wish-fulfillment daydream carried out without adequate research or foresight. (I devote a chapter to the topic in my upcoming book, Death by Liberalism.)
These reforms amounted to loosening all legal and social restrictions on criminals and lawless behavior. “Sentencing reform” cut sentences to little or nothing. “Rehabilitation”, which usually took the form of a few hours spent with a harried social worker, replaced punishment. In the late 50s, the Supreme Court stepped in with a series of decisions heralded as the “procedural revolution”, which overturned previous criminal justice procedure and subjected the entire system to minute control by the federal courts. In 1958, Mapp v. Ohio rewrote the rules regarding admissible evidence. Four years later, Gideon v. Wainwright (1962) guaranteed a defendant adequate legal representation. Escebedo v. Illinois (1964) guaranteed that a criminal had contact with his attorney, while Miranda v. Arizona (1965) required that police go through an elaborate and unvarying ritual pantomime to inform suspects of their rights every time they made an arrest. 

Some of these decisions were justified, even overdue — Gideon, for instance. But coming all at once, with no preparation, guidance, or warning, they acted as a sledgehammer to the justice system, resulting in a confused court system, a demoralized police force, and an increasingly frightened populace. From the criminal point of view, they promised unlimited get-out-of-jail-free cards, free legal representation, and a sentence that at worst involved a few encounters with a tired parole officer.

The end result was exactly what any sane individual would have predicted. Beginning in 1964 (not coincidentally, the year of Escebedo), crime began to explode. Major crimes jumped for the first time in five years. By the end of the decade, they had more than doubled. They continued soaring each year thereafter until by the mid-70s crime rates had increased by up to 400%. Rates dropped slightly in the early 80s before roaring back in mid-decade, fueled by crack and the drug trade, finally topping even the incredible levels of the 70s.
This long witch’s sabbath did not begin to abate until the early 90s, when New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton adapted George Keller and James Q. Wilson’s “Broken Windows” thesis, coming down hard on such crimes as squeegeeing, jaywalking, and graffiti on the premise that creating an impression of public order leads to more public order. Broken Windows has brought down crime wherever it has been applied. Where it has not been applied, as in towns like Detroit and Newark, crime continues as rampant as ever. (It’s no coincidence, by the way, that Giuliani has been the most vocal critic of the administration’s Jihadi maneuver.)
The cost of the great crime explosion is impossible to calculate. There is scarcely a single individual, and not a single family, not harmed by it in some fashion during the thirty years in which it raged. In my own case, I can recall an old man strangled to death in the first-floor apartment of my building (a murder for which I was questioned), a girlfriend raped while waiting for a ride on a Manhattan street corner, seeing a man’s face half carved off in a street brawl, breaking up an attempted invasion of a woman’s apartment, and witnessing, from a moving car on an expressway, what could have been nothing else but a man being stabbed to death on a Lower East Side street. These crimes occurred in a single seven-year period between 1975 and 1982. This record is in no way unusual for people of my generation.
As for the numbers, the people murdered amount to over a quarter of a million. My own calculations, admittedly untutored, put the total at 268,000. Regarding assaults, rapes, robberies, and lesser crimes, the statistics are literally incalculable.
It is this paradigm, with those results, that is being invoked in the case of the Jihadis. Never let it be said that liberals ever learn a lesson, or fail to fumble the opportunity to apply one.
What can the administration’s purpose be here? Far be it from me to gaze too deeply into the blazing furnace that comprises the messiah’s intellect, but the simplest answer is that it makes things easy. It’s a much simpler matter to transfer so many generic “criminals” from Gitmo to Yourtown, USA as opposed to a detachment of theologically-crazed mass murderers. Similarly, when some of their number are acquitted, as will inevitably occur, it will cause much less uproar when they have to be released. Mirandizing the Jihadis is a first step in gearing down the War on Terror so that Obama can afford to ignore it and instead concentrate his attention on more interesting tasks such as wrecking the economy and turning the US into an international laughingstock.
It’s easy to see how the pattern will work itself out. As in most criminal cases over the past thirty years — OJ or Phil Spector can serve as illustrations — the heart of the case will be buried under paper and legalisms. Much will be made of the discomfort Khalid suffered during his “torture” sessions — the Couric-Moore-Olbermann axis will carry the ball here. Proceedings will drag on interminably, featuring numbing detail and endless repetition, contradictions, open fraud, and bogus controversy. By the end, a bewildered America will have tuned out, unwilling to hear any more. Many will have bought into various conspiracy theories and controversies cooked up by the attorneys and the media. Once the Jihadi-as-victim portrait is complete, the “defendants” will be receiving full public support from the ultraviolet elements of the American left, including fundraising, demos, and “monkeywrenching”. The verdict, whatever it may be, will come obscured by a fog of trivia, and the entire exercise will climax in a whimper.
But that isn’t how it will end. Because, whatever they may think, the chain of events is not under the control of Obama and his people. As I have pointed out previously, their activities have served to open a door, a door that reveals only darkness. Out of that darkness will come something that will blow away all the daydreams, all the games, all the bogus little ideals and rituals. We are being made to look weak, childish, and silly in the eyes of the barbarians. There is price for that, and that price will be paid, as it was paid by the millions of victims of the great crime explosion. History possesses its own dynamic, and it will not be denied. Eventually, even the liberals will have to learn that.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/the_coming_jihadi_trial_disast_1.html at November 18, 2009 – 10:52:20 AM EST

Obama “very close” to Afghan troop decision: TV report Obama is useless

Obama “very close” to Afghan troop decision: TV report

Wed Nov 18, 6:28 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday he is “very close” to a decision on boosting troop levels in Afghanistan and would make an announcement “in the next several weeks.”

In a transcript of the interview seen by Reuters, Obama said he did not want his successor as president to inherit the Afghan conflict, adding that a “multi-year occupation” would not serve the interests of the United States.

(Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by David Fox)

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