The critics of Health Care Reform have a point - its expensive. At least $940 Billion worth of expensive over a 10 year period, maybe more. Sure, almost all of it is off-set by taxes and fees.
But what if I was to tell you that I knew of a way to pay for it, and more, without raising taxes or making any cuts at all?
It sounds too good to be true, right?
And yet its still true. The trick is hidden in a GAO report from three weeks ago that didn't get any media attention.
Improper Payments: Federal entities reported estimates of improper payment amounts that totaled $98.7 billion for fiscal year 2009, which represented about 5 percent of $1.9 trillion of reported outlays for the related programs.
That's nearly $100 Billion in payments that should not have been made, and $26.2 Billion more than last year. Or to put it another way, that's more than one year of the cost of health care reform right there.
But that is a far cry from the real total. If you go to page 251 of this report you will see that the $98.7 Billion number does not include four government agencies, with $89 Billion in outlays, consisting of 11 programs. Five of those programs reported improper payments in fiscal 2008.
These include National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Department of Homeland Security which were "not auditable or were not subjected to audit by agency auditors."
The most serious exception to this report owns 71% of the government's property and equitment - the Department of Defense.
(1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that have prevented DOD’s financial statements from being auditable,
“It’s not that DOD flunks audits, it’s that DOD’s books cannot be audited. DOD aspires for the position where it flunks an audit.”
- Winslow T. Wheeler, Center for Defense Information
The Department of Defense's accounting situation is an epic disaster that dwarfs any other area of the government. Perhaps you remember that the day before 9/11, Rumsfeld told the world that the DOD couldn't account for $2.3 Trillion - $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. 25% of its yearly budget simply vanishes into thin air.
Some believe it is corruption.
"The director looked at me and said 'Why do you care about this stuff?' It took me aback, you know? My supervisor asking me why I care about doing a good job," said Minnery.
He was reassigned and says officials then covered up the problem by just writing it off.
"They have to cover it up," he said. "That's where the corruption comes in. They have to cover up the fact that they can't do the job."
“Their systems can’t keep track of who they’ve sold stuff to, who owes them, who they owe.”
- Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Instead of crying about the cost of needed programs, like health care reform, how about crying over unneeded costs, like improper payments and auditing 25% of the Pentagon budget? Surely we can find a way to cut the budget deficit simply by doing a better job of tracking the taxpayer money.
Once we've done that, we can consider the costs of unneeded policies, like useless foreign wars and the billions of dollars that have gone missing there. Funny how people can get excited over much-needed reforms, but not over corruption that no one needs.