Infernal Revenue Service Wasted $5.6 Billion On Bogus Obama Stimulus Tax Credits

IRS Wasted $5.6B On Bogus Obama Stimulus Tax Credits: Audit – Washington Times

.

.
The IRS doled out more than $5 billion in potentially bogus college aid payments under an Obama stimulus tax credit in 2012, according to a new report Tuesday from the agency’s inspector general that said the administration still doesn’t have a good handle on how to root out erroneous claims.

More than 3.8 million students received more than $5.6 billion in questionable tax credits, the audit found – more than half of those never filed their tuition statement, while others were paid tax credits even though the schools they attended weren’t acceptable institutions.

Still other students claimed the credit for more than four years.

“The IRS still does not have effective processes to identify erroneous claims for education credits,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, who said he’s repeatedly warned the IRS about the problem but “many of the deficiencies TIGTA previously identified still exist.”

Many of the problems, however, lie with Congress, which needs to grant the IRS new powers to check students’ claims against other government databases, Mr. George said.

The tax break at issue is known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which was a creation of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus. It was slated to expire in 2010, but Mr. Obama and Congress have extended it through 2017.

The credits are designed to offset the costs of college.

IRS officials said part of the blame for the potential fraud lies with schools and the school year itself, saying that information on students’ attendance comes too late for the agency to be able to check it against returns.

But Debra Holland, IRS’s wage and investment division commissioner, insisted her agency does have “effective processes to identify erroneous claims,” saying they did catch 1.8 million questionable returns and put nearly 9,600 of those cases through a tax exam.

Ms. Holland blamed a lack of money for her agency’s inability to do more, and said they needed to limit their efforts to tax returns that had the highest risk of errors and the best chance of reclaiming money.

The IRS has already moved to add more checks to its system by looking to see who’s claimed the tax credit for more than four nonconsecutive years.

In a statement Tuesday, the IRS said Congress could help the agency out by granting it the power to automatically reject payments to students who claim more than four years of the tax credit. The agency also said Congress could approve new tools to access other government databases to check students’ eligibility for the tax credits, and could speed up the timeframe for filing the tuition forms that the inspector general said were missing in most of the cases it identified.

“Funding limitations have severely hampered our efforts in this and other compliance areas. Since 2010, the IRS budget has been reduced by nearly $1.2 billion and we expect to have 16,000 fewer employees by the end of this fiscal year. We simply do not have enough resources to audit every questionable credit,” the agency said.

The agency also said it believed the estimate of $5.6 billion was “overstated,” though the IRS acknowledged that it should try to do more to cut down on bad payments.

.

.

*VIDEO* Ted Cruz: Interview – United States Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce


.

.

U.S. Economy Slows To A Crawl As GDP Grows A Scant 0.2% In First Quarter

U.S. Economic Growth Nearly Stalls Out – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. economy slowed to a crawl at the start of the year as businesses slashed investment, exports tumbled and consumers showed signs of caution, marking a return to the uneven growth that has been a hallmark of the nearly six-year economic expansion.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at a 0.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The economy advanced at a 2.2% pace in the fourth quarter and 5% in the third.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected growth of 1% in the first three months of this year, though many were braced for a surprise to the downside.

The latest reading on the economy came hours before Federal Reserve officials released their policy statement, in which they said slower growth reflected, in part, “transitory factors.” The Fed gave no new explicit clues on the timing of interest-rate increases, but the slower growth made the timing a bit more uncertain.

The first-quarter figures repeat a common pattern in recent years: one or two strong readings followed by a sharp slowdown. First-quarter GDP growth had averaged 0.6% since 2010 and 2.9% for all other quarters. That has worked out to moderate overall expansion but no growth breakout.

.

.
“This is another quarterly number which confirms the long-term slow-growth thesis, but there are good odds we get a bit of a bounce later in the year from stabilized business spending and the housing markets, which are setting up quite promising,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, said in a note to clients.

Last year, economists pinned much of the blame for a bad first quarter – GDP shrank 2.1% – on unusually harsh weather. This year, multiple factors appear to be at work, including another bout of blizzards, disruptions at West Coast ports, the stronger dollar’s effect on exports and the impact of cheaper oil.

Better weather, a return to normal at port terminals and steadying investment could boost growth later this year.

“We expect the economy will rebound in [the second quarter] and beyond, similar to last year,” said Michelle Girard, economist at RBS Securities.

But not all the factors behind the slowdown appear temporary. A stronger dollar and cheaper oil could persist, keeping exports and energy-sector investment at bay.

As well, rising inventories kept the U.S. economy out of recession, contributing 0.74 percentage point to GDP in the first quarter. A second-quarter repeat is unlikely.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, said producers probably will allow inventory positions to run off rather than building them up even more. “This tells us that current-quarter growth is likely to run around 2.5%, not the 4% snapback we had previously been anticipating,” he said.

U.S. households will have to pick up spending to help the economy grow. Wednesday’s report showed consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic output, decelerated to a 1.9% pace in the first quarter, down from 4.4% growth in the fourth quarter.

Rather than using savings from cheaper gasoline to buy more goods and services, Americans have been setting money aside for a rainy day. The personal saving rate at 5.5% in the first quarter was the highest since 2012. The figure was 4.6% in the fourth quarter.

Another key driver of the economy, business spending, also has faltered of late. Nonresidential fixed investment – which reflects spending on software, research and development, equipment and structures – retreated at a 3.4% rate, compared with a 4.7% rise in the fourth quarter.

Energy companies in particular are feeling the effects of cheaper oil. Business investment in structures fell 23.1%, led by a 48.7% contraction for mining sector spending on shafts and wells, Commerce said.

A stronger dollar, meanwhile, has made domestically produced goods more expensive overseas and foreign products cheaper inside the U.S. Combined with disruptions at West Coast ports, trade was constrained. In the first quarter, exports fell at a 7.2% rate, compared with 4.5% growth in the fourth quarter. Imports rose 1.8%, compared with 10.4% in the fourth quarter.

Federal government spending added little to the economy in the first quarter, expanding 0.3%, compared with a 7.3% fall in the fourth quarter.

Real final sales of domestic product, a measure that excludes changes to inventories, shrank at a 0.5% pace, compared with a 2.3% rise in the fourth quarter.

Alongside weak growth in the quarter, prices fell.

The price index for personal consumption expenditures – the Fed’s preferred measure for inflation – declined at a 2% annual rate, well below the central bank’s 2% inflation growth target. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy components, were up 0.9%, the lowest level since 2010.

.

.

Who Is Dennis Michael Lynch?


.
Dennis Michael Lynch (born August 28, 1969) is an American entrepreneur, documentary filmmaker, and conservative commentator. He is the founder and CEO of TV360Media, a company specializing in the production and distribution of digital film, and often appears as a guest on Fox News and TheBlaze. He is currently running for President of the United States as a conservative Republican.

Official Campaign Website
Facebook
Twitter
Youtube
Documentary: They Come To America

.
VETERANS TEAR DOWN OBAMA BARRICADES AT WWII MEMORIAL

.
SEAN HANNITY TELEVISION SPECIAL: THE COST OF AMNESTY

.
BUNDY RANCH STANDOFF

.
DML FOR AMERICA PAC

.
SPEECH AT NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

.

Federal Government Shelled Out $125B In Bogus Payments Last Year

Feds Shelled Out $125B In Bogus Payments Last Year – Washington Times

.

.
The government paid out $124.7 billion in potentially bogus payments last year, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday, blaming a controversial tax credit for the poor as well as increased bad payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

One major problem is tracking when Americans die – the Social Security Administration admitted last week that its rolls are filled with names of more than 6 million folks who are listed as 112 years of age or older.

The Government Accountability Office said Social Security has trouble maintaining the Death Master File, and other agencies have difficulties in getting the information to update their own files and halt payments to those no longer alive to collect benefits.

SEE ALSO: Rand Paul emerges as the harshest GOP critic of Clinton emails

At the same time, being improperly listed on the Death Master File can cause nightmares, said Judy C. Rivers, a woman who has twice been erroneously listed, leaving her denied for jobs, rejected for apartments and forced to live in her car.

At one point she spent an hour haggling with a bank that was refusing to open an account for her but wouldn’t tell her why. Eventually the manager told Ms. Rivers her Social Security number had been listed by the federal agency as deactivated “due to death.”

“The Death Master File has been like a propagating hydra underlying all my problems,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

SEE ALSO: VA refusing to comply with Congress on transparency, reforms, lawmakers say

It took her four years to clear up enough of the problems that she was able to be approved for a credit card again.

Social Security’s inspector general said a 2008 investigation found more than 20,000 people who were wrongly listed in the death file.

The agency says its hands are tied and it must release some information about those in its death file in response to open-records requests, leaving those erroneously listed open to even more fraud if an unscrupulous actor gets their number and realizes they are still alive.

Social Security insists it hasn’t found an instance where someone’s identity was compromised solely because of being wrongly listed.

Sean Brune, senior adviser to the deputy Social Security commissioner, said less than half a percent of the 2.8 million new death reports they get each year are inaccurate.

The agency gets its information from banks, post offices, and federal and state agencies that pay out benefits, such as the Veterans Affairs Department or Medicare.

Social Security paid out a little more than $8 billion in improper payments last year, according to GAO investigators. The supplemental security income program had a 9.2 percent error rate, while the retirement benefits program had a much smaller error rate of four-tenths of a percent.

The biggest problems, however, came at Medicare, whose basic fee-for-service program paid out $45.8 billion in improper payments, or nearly 13 percent of its outlays, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which botched 27.2 percent of its payments, for a total of $17.7 billion, the GAO said.

Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and unemployment insurance rounded out the top five worst programs in terms of dollars spent on potentially bogus payments.

The government paid out $124.7 billion in potentially bogus payments last year, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday, blaming a controversial tax credit for the poor as well as increased bad payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

One major problem is tracking when Americans die – the Social Security Administration admitted last week that its rolls are filled with names of more than 6 million folks who are listed as 112 years of age or older.

The Government Accountability Office said Social Security has trouble maintaining the Death Master File, and other agencies have difficulties in getting the information to update their own files and halt payments to those no longer alive to collect benefits.

SEE ALSO: Rand Paul emerges as the harshest GOP critic of Clinton emails

At the same time, being improperly listed on the Death Master File can cause nightmares, said Judy C. Rivers, a woman who has twice been erroneously listed, leaving her denied for jobs, rejected for apartments and forced to live in her car.

At one point she spent an hour haggling with a bank that was refusing to open an account for her but wouldn’t tell her why. Eventually the manager told Ms. Rivers her Social Security number had been listed by the federal agency as deactivated “due to death.”

“The Death Master File has been like a propagating hydra underlying all my problems,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

It took her four years to clear up enough of the problems that she was able to be approved for a credit card again.

Social Security’s inspector general said a 2008 investigation found more than 20,000 people who were wrongly listed in the death file.

The agency says its hands are tied and it must release some information about those in its death file in response to open-records requests, leaving those erroneously listed open to even more fraud if an unscrupulous actor gets their number and realizes they are still alive.

Social Security insists it hasn’t found an instance where someone’s identity was compromised solely because of being wrongly listed.

Sean Brune, senior adviser to the deputy Social Security commissioner, said less than half a percent of the 2.8 million new death reports they get each year are inaccurate.

The agency gets its information from banks, post offices, and federal and state agencies that pay out benefits, such as the Veterans Affairs Department or Medicare.

Social Security paid out a little more than $8 billion in improper payments last year, according to GAO investigators. The supplemental security income program had a 9.2 percent error rate, while the retirement benefits program had a much smaller error rate of four-tenths of a percent.

The biggest problems, however, came at Medicare, whose basic fee-for-service program paid out $45.8 billion in improper payments, or nearly 13 percent of its outlays, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which botched 27.2 percent of its payments, for a total of $17.7 billion, the GAO said.

Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and unemployment insurance rounded out the top five worst programs in terms of dollars spent on potentially bogus payments.

.

.

*VIDEO* Pajamas Media: Trifecta – Too Damn Big! Can We Get The Government To Shrink?


.

.

Buried In The Numbers: Obamacare’s Costs Are Climbing, Not Receding (Sally Pipes)

Buried In The Numbers: Obamacare’s Costs Are Climbing, Not Receding – Sally Pipes

.

.
Late last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the provisions within Obamacare expanding access to insurance coverage would cost 20% less than the agency estimated in 2010, when the law passed.

The White House was ecstatic. “The estimates released today by CBO once again confirm the progress we’ve made,” said deputy press secretary Eric Schultz.

Taxpayers, however, should worry. A closer look at the CBO’s numbers shows that Obamacare is growing much more expensive – and disruptive.

The CBO now expects Obamacare to cover far fewer uninsured than it previously thought. In a March 2011 report, the nonpartisan agency predicted that Obamacare would extend coverage to 34 million uninsured by 2021. It has since downgraded that number to 27 million – and concluded that Obamacare will leave 31 million Americans without insurance.

So the law’s overall price tag has declined only because it’s covering fewer people.

Left unsaid is the fact that Obamacare is set to spend more per person. If the law is not repealed, Obamacare will shell out $7,740 in subsidies for every person who gains coverage in 2021. That’s a 7% increase over the agency’s per-person estimate in 2011.

The CBO now projects that the law will cost nearly $2 trillion over the next ten years. Obamacare’s subsidies alone will cost $1.1 trillion. In 2010, the agency put the cost of the entire law at $940 billion over its first decade.

Obamacare hasn’t just failed to expand coverage as projected – it’s caused more people to lose their insurance than its architects intended. The CBO now estimates that 10 million people will lose their employer-provided health benefits by 2021. That’s a tenfold increase over the agency’s 2011 projections.

Indeed, the CBO originally predicted that Obamacare would boost employer-based health coverage by several million from 2011 to 2015.

This latest round of CBO projections could look downright rosy if health costs rise in the future.

That seems likely. National health spending shot up 5.6% last year. The agency predicts that it will climb 6% a year for the foreseeable future. That’s a 50% uptick from the average annual health inflation rate over the past six years.

Meanwhile, by offering subsidies for the purchase of insurance on state or federal exchanges, Obamacare will increase demand for it. That will fuel further price inflation.

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber admitted as much in a January 2014 interview, saying, “The law isn’t designed to save money. It’s designed to improve health, and that’s going to cost money.” The president, of course, promised otherwise.

The law’s costs could rise even faster if companies dodge the employer mandate, which require firms with at least 100 full-time employees to offer health plans or pay a fine starting this year. Those with at least 50 full-timers must do the same beginning in 2016.

Employers might cut back on their workers’ hours so that they’re considered part-time — or stop hiring workers. Some firms may dump their health plans altogether, thanks to Obamacare’s many other cost-inflating mandates and regulations. The fine may be cheaper than the cost of coverage.

That may be good for their bottom line. But workers would suddenly have to pay for their own coverage on the exchanges. Taxpayers would have to pick up a share of the tab for those that qualify for subsidies.

These possibilities are becoming reality. A recent survey of small companies in southwestern Michigan found that one-quarter planned to drop their health plans this year because of Obamacare. Another quarter expect to do so next year.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, another of Obamacare’s architects, believes these mass exoduses will continue. He predicts that Obamacare will bring about “the end of employer-sponsored insurance.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our healthcare system can deliver better quality care at lower cost – but only if the federal government repeals the Affordable Care Act and replaces it with a healthcare law based on market-friendly reforms.

Consider the market for senior care – dominated, of course, by Medicare. Lawmakers should replace the current, open-ended, fee-for-service system with means-tested vouchers available to beneficiaries at age 67, just as Social Security is. Under such a system, seniors would be able to pick from a variety of privately administered health plans. Competition can do the job of reducing costs and improving quality.

It’s already done so in the Medicare Part D drug benefit, which allows seniors to choose from among prescription drug plans offered by competing insurance companies. According to the CBO, Part D’s cost between 2004 and 2013 was 45% lower than the agency predicted at the outset.

Lawmakers should adopt a similar approach to reforming Medicaid, the joint state-federal health plan for the poor. A fixed block grant for each state – and private options for Medicaid enrollees – would empower states to experiment with their programs to determine how to deliver the best care at the lowest cost.

There’s evidence that this approach can save money and improve care. In 2011, Oregon convinced the Obama administration to give it a block grant of sorts. The results have been impressive. Emergency-room visits declined 17%. From 2011 to 2014, costs fell 19%.

If Oregon’s approach were adopted nationwide, Medicaid spending could decline by more than $900 billion over the next decade, according to CMS.

Obamacare is failing to reduce our nation’s health costs and to expand access to insurance as promised. Congress’s own budget watchdog now admits as much.

Congressional Republicans have finally begun to do something about that reality, with their vote to repeal Obamacare last week and their reinvigorated drive to formulate a replacement. They must complete the job.

.

.