CNN.com has an article today on disability overpayments made by the Social Security Administration ($1.3 billion over two years according to a recent Government Accountability Office report). Although people often associate government overpayments with fraud, often times it’s just bureaucratic bungling.
The fight over the government shutdown may have come to an ignominious end, but the reprieve from Washington budgetary politics will be short-lived. The latest continuing resolution will expire on January 15, while we will hit our debt ceiling again on February 7. In the meantime, a budget conference committee, headed by Representative Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senator Patty Murray (D., Wash.), is supposed to reach an agreement by December 13.
The Tea Party-oriented lawmakers who wanted to block Obamacare before people began to get hooked on subsidies were unable to prevail: we have a deal and the wailing and hysteria in Washington is over. The politicians now have the authority to borrow more money and the bureaucrats are all back at work (rested and refreshed after their paid vacation, so they’ll probably tax, spend and regulate with extra fervor).
Almost three weeks before the government went into a partial shutdown, I warned that a Republican insistence on defunding or delaying the president’s signature Affordable Care Act in exchange for keeping the government open and increasing the debt limit was doomed to failure. Given my strong desire to see Obamacare tossed onto the ash heap of history, I would have been thrilled to be proven wrong.
In the end, the defund strategy may prove to be a disaster. Or helpful. What’s clear is that the recriminations are unwisely distracting ObamaCare opponents from adding momentum to strategies that are already defunding the law. Here are four things opponents would be better off doing than fighting among themselves:
The real loss for fiscal conservatives this week was not that Obamacare wasn’t defunded or that there were no entitlement cuts in the deal that reopened the government…Instead, the bigger concern is that the Republicans caved in on renegotiating the discretionary spending levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act and sequester.
I would have loved to have seen Obamacare suffer a lethal blow. I would have also loved for a unicorn to show up at my door with a check made out to me for $1 billion. Neither was going to happen.
The federal government has been subsidizing so-called clean coal for decades, and the hand-outs have resulted in one bipartisan boondoggle after another.
A Wall Street Journal story today begins “America’s road to recovery may face a costly detour due to a fraying transportation network. One in nine of the country’s 607,380 bridges are structurally deficient …”
Despite the fears expressed in news stories, federal worker furloughs do not seem to have caused major economic disruptions. While the National Parks were closed, most government workers that provide useful services to citizens are at the state and local level, not the federal level.