As the President’s failing economic policies force more and more Americans into accepting unemployment benefits, fraud and overpayments in unemployment disbursements have become disturbingly common. The Washington Post observed on July 3, 2011 that fraudulent unemployment disbursements totaled $17 billion in 2010, and a USA Today article published the next day noted, “In the 12 months through March, the overpayment rate was 11.6% — more than $1 for every $9 paid out.”
Just as sobering as these figures is evidence of almost unbelievable mismanagement: some states, including Utah and Montana, do not retain a collection agency’s services to secure reimbursement for overpayments. Rhode Island only recently retained a collection agency to secure reimbursement for the first time. Several states do not even bother collecting overpayments if the overpayment was not the recipient’s fault.
It is indefensible that unemployment administrators have collected paychecks for years despite neglecting to take basic steps to administer their programs efficiently. Taxpayers can only guess what other common-sense measures program administrators have failed to take to safeguard public money. In the meantime, billions continue to be wasted.
The $17 billion swindle in 2010 is more than double the $7.1 billion in unemployment overpayments in 2009, and is particularly disheartening because the $17 billion of losses came after President Obama’s November 2009 executive order to curtail waste, fraud, and abuse. Though no further evidence than this is required to show that Obama’s 2009 order was ineffective, the fact that Obama felt it necessary to issue another executive order to cut waste just last month underscores how impotent the Obama Administration’s efforts to address government waste have been.
Given Obama’s disappointing track record, voters can expect his most recent executive order to accomplish what his last order accomplished—nothing. Instead of laying rhetorical groundwork for his reelection campaign, the President should show he respects taxpayers by leading the government in diligent, specific efforts to save the billions the government loses to waste, fraud, and abuse each year.