If one were to only listen to the economists at conservative Koch-funded think tanks, one might think that rampant "waste, fraud and abuse" in our entitlement programs is driving the U.S. into bankruptcy. And the mainstream media contributes to this fallacy.
Sensational media known as HEADLINE NEWS is sometimes just "yellow journalism" (like tabloid news magazines) to get readers, to sell advertising. Wiki: "A type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers."
The Daily Signal's recent headline was: Report: Nearly Half of Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Were Overpaid By Government — and the Chicago Tribune's headline was: Report: Social Security overpaid disability recipients $17 billion (Which was concluded over a ten year study).
But if you read the Chicago Tribune's article, they acknowledge that "approximately 99.8 percent of all Social Security payments were free of overpayment, and nearly 99.9 percent were free of underpayment."
FYI: Divided over 10 years, $17 billion is $1.7 billion a year — which is still a lot of money — unless you put that in context and looked at this figure in perspective to the overall budget.
According to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in fiscal year 2014, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, amounting to 20 percent of the nation's $17.5 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That year 24 percent of the budget, or $851 billion, was paid for all Social Security benefits (which provided monthly retirement benefits averaging $1,329 to 39.0 million retired workers, benefits to 2.3 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6.1 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 10.9 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents.)
So $1.7 billion is less that 0.2% of the money spent on Social Security --- or --- we can say $1.7 billion a year is only a mere 0.13% of the $1.3 trillion annual budget ($1,700,000,000 divided by $1,300,000,000,000).
According to a recent report by the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration (which even the article at The Daily Signal acknowledges), HALF OF THAT MONEY WAS RECOVERED! So on average, only 0.065% of the annual budget was lost to over-payments in disability payments. [Some might argue that that's less of a percentage of employee theft in the private sector.]
And these meager Social Security over-payments — when compared to the almost $1 trillion in stock buybacks corporations made last year from the $1.8 trillion they had in after-tax profits that year (and from the over $2 trillion they have hoarded in offshore banks) — it amounts to nothing more than a grain of sand at either Rush Limbaugh's, Bill O'Reilly's and Sean Hannity's beachfront mansions.
The federal government is now in the process of restoring Social Security disability payments to hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky whose checks were suspended pending a review of their eligibility. Authorities are investigating the deaths of three people in Eastern Kentucky who might have committed suicide after receiving letters telling them their federal disability benefits were being suspended. Was this in part because of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's hyperbole?
And speaking of Rand Paul...(who is running for President), his dad (who also ran for President) has been regularly running infomercials on TV — often on the Fox News channel. Here's Ron Paul's website that he advertises in his infomercial — which advertises this book. A review shows it to be a scam. Rand Paul’s dad wants to sell you his book for $110 and have you invest in silver, gold and bitcoins.
Just like Glenn Beck and his gold commercials — they are all opportunists selling snake oil to gullible people by using fear and ignorance to get you to send them money. But these very wealthy people also want to cut taxes on the rich so that the government will be forced to cut spending on programs such as Social Security.
Final Note: To preserve the Social Security retirement and disability trust funds (and EXPAND Social Security benefits), Congress should completely eliminate the "cap" on Social Security payroll taxes and also tax capital gains income for Social Security taxes.
* For more, Google "Bud Meyers Social Security" or "Bud Meyers Disability"