Obama's America:
Unmaking the American Dream

by Dinesh D'Souza
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Continued from Welfare Fraud and Abuse

Some say that welfare fraud is not a significant problem.  While there is a general feeling that welfare fraud is rampant, advocates for welfare programs insist that fraud is only found in 2%-3% of cases researched by the thousands of welfare investigators across the nation.  It certainly is possible that more fraud takes place than is being reported.  There isn’t any way to really substantiate that feeling, however, without it actually being reported.  We know that some fraud exists; but, with such low rates of it being found, it certainly isn’t the biggest challenge that welfare programs face.  Is welfare fraud a big enough problem with which we should even concern ourselves? 

Let’s run some numbers to find out.  According to the 2010 US Census Bureau findings, there are 114.8 Million families in the US.  With 34.2% of US families “on welfare” (see related article: An Expansion of the Welfare State), this means that approximately 39.3 Million homes receive monthly welfare benefits.  The Federal government expects to spend $451.9 Billion in 2012 on welfare expenditures. This averages out to roughly $11,500 annually per family or $958 per family per month. 

If the fraud rate is only 2%-3%, how much money could it really be costing us?  Well…these low rates would mean that roughly 785,000 to 1.2 Million families are illegally receiving welfare benefits.  At the average rate of $11,500 per year, this is costing the tax payers between $9.0 - $13.5 Billion dollars every year. This is as much or more than the cost of teen pregnancy. (see related article: Homes Built on Sand)  While the percentage may be small, the cost is still quite high.  It isn’t enough to make up the $1.5 Trillion Federal budget deficit; but, it is still significant. 

I think a potentially significant source of outright fraud may exist in what I call the “income expenditure gap”.  When we looked at what has been taking place with household incomes and expenditures, we noted a gap between average expenditures and income for homes making $20,000 - $40,000 per year. (see related article: The Unstable American Home)
These homes typically do not qualify for welfare assistance.  A number of these homes are unmarried, cohabitating parents. There may also be generations of families residing in the same home.  Sometimes they are also unrelated individuals who share a residence in order to also share expenses.  Most states require income information on all persons residing at the residence in order to determine eligibility regardless of whether they are related or support each other.  The most common instances of welfare fraud that I have heard about are instances where applications are falsified regarding the number of income earning individuals residing in the homes along with asset disclosures as was the 2011 case with Lyudmila Shimonova and David Silverstein from the State of Washington. Federal prosecutors alleged that the couple fraudulently received more than $135,000 in Federal and State assistance over the course of a decade in this manner.

At the same time, I think that people in general are more frustrated with the abuses of welfare benefits that we witness and about which we hear.  These are not necessarily fraud, although some activities are still illegal.  We may witness food stamp recipients splurging or making what we feel are unwise shopping decisions at the grocery store.  Because many benefits are paid only once per month, which helps keep the administrative costs to the government entities lower, it lends itself to patterns of compulsive spending.  Even unemployment benefits, which require waiting periods before benefits begin, place households in situations where money is spent as soon as it is received creating cycles of spending and periods of void. 

The periods of void create an increase of potential emotional energy that is released, similar to addictive gambling behavior, when the next benefit payment is received. This is only amplified in effect when actual addictive and substance abuse issues exist – which, as we just saw, is the case in roughly 10% of the US population. (see related article: Homes Built on Sand)  We hear of instances where welfare recipients will illegally sell or exchange their benefits for cash in order to purchase drugs or alcohol.  This is leading some states to pass drug screening requirements as a condition of qualifying for welfare benefits. 

Welfare fraud, though it may not be high in percentage, is still a significant source of welfare expense.  The efforts to reduce welfare fraud are a natural reaction to increasing welfare costs.  As household disposable income or actual income decrease due to factors in the economy at large, the potential for increased welfare fraud exists.  In some cases, the way that programs are administered can encourage fraud and abuse to take place.  With politicians and governmental leaders more interested in inciting the public’s passion about welfare than actually taking steps to improve welfare programs, US tax payers and voters are left fighting with each other over what to do about welfare without any substantive data to accurately identify or fully understand the issues. 

We must keep our emotions in check though.  Certainly fraud and illegal activity is taking advantage of our mercy and goodwill.  In our anger and desire to improve the operation of welfare programs, let’s not lose sight of the good that these programs do.  Let’s also balance the emotional impact of immoral behaviors with the greater number of people who are legitimately and fairly receiving welfare benefits.  We should also keep in mind that even if we were to completely eliminate welfare fraud, without Federal spending reforms in other areas, we must still borrow every dollar we spend on welfare programs.  (see related article: What Can We Do About Welfare?)

Welfare was intended to help struggling families while growing the economy.  The theory was that the economy would be better positioned to grow as we reduce both the impact and prominence of poverty.  When the economy struggles, we all feel the effect and the burden of charity weighs heavily upon us.  It is natural to want to reduce fraud and abuse of our goodwill.  In our zeal to eliminate the reward for those who illegitimately benefit from welfare programs, let us not lose our compassion for families living in poverty.  Though, it would be wise for us to examine whether the impacts of our choices are meeting the expectations of our intentions.

To be continued…Up next: Is Welfare Working?

Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream

America as we know it—wealthy, powerful, assertive—is not what Obama wants. He wants a smaller America, a poorer America, an America unable to exert its will, an America happy to be one power among many, an America in decline so that other nations might rise—all in the name of global fairness. To Obama, the hated “one percent” isn’t just wealthy Americas; it is America itself. In Obama’s view, America needs to be taken down a notch.

That is the startling conclusion of bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza in Obama’s America. Building on his previous New York Times bestseller The Roots of Obama’s Rage—which Newt Gingrich called “Stunning…the most profound insight I have read in the last six years”—D’Souza shows how Obama’s goal to downsize America is in plain sight but ignored by everyone.

Follow this link to advertise with It's Our America.

 


Comments

10/31/2012 7:16am

I think that Oboma is right, we as Americans do need to go down a notch. It's sad to think that I live in a country where integrity, honesty, trust and values mean nothing. And it's only about the money. We have all these lazy people that just sit down and live off the government, America needs to look into everyone on welfare and only give it to the people that need it. I think we all know who we should vote for this time, that's all I have to say about this...

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10/31/2012 9:41am

Thank you for reading, Ernie, and for your comment. It is disappointing that there would be people seeking to defraud the public. This is basically theft. I'm glad that it at least appears to be a small percentage. Of course, it would be better, in my opinion, if the economy were such that no one needed welfare. Since that is not the case either, I console myself with the knowledge that the greater majority who receive benefits are those who truly have a need.

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jeff magers
06/04/2013 1:21pm

hello roanen, in your opinion which is worse for america, welfare fraud or offshoring?

06/05/2013 11:14am

Offshoring is a bigger issue from the standpoint of economic health and prosperity. It is a much larger drain on resources than welfare fraud by comparison. From a legal and moral standpoint, welfare fraud is the greater issue. Both should, and can, be addressed.

Patrick Mace
07/19/2013 12:22pm

Roanen,

We already do what you suggest.

In spite of the general belief, it is not that easy to get assistance. In California, each application for assistance is reviewed by an "eligibility specialist" whose task it is to determine if the person is "eligible" for assistance. Applicants must present documentation (rent receipts, birth certificates, pay stubs, tax returns, DMV registration, etc.) Many applications are denied at this point. And even if the case is approved, they must reapply and go through the process again in six months.

However, people do lie, cheat, and steal. Some figure out ways to trick the system, but there are "welfare fraud investigators" whose job it is to catch them. It is a felony.

At the same time, the benefits are terribly low and do not begin to cover the basic essentials of living. Few people can get by just using welfare benefits.

Adding to the mess is the problems in the economy that reduce state revenues causing case overloads for eligibility workers and fraud investigators. Mistakes are made and cases that should be investigated, get filed for later attention.

We can tighten the system up and catch more fraud, but we would have to spend more money to do it. Money saved does not affect the budget for state social service departments as the funds for paying welfare recipients has a different funding stream (federal) that the funds that pay workers and investigators.

It is a complicated system and not entirely rational.

07/20/2013 12:58pm

Thanks for adding your thoughts, Patrick. Your remarks reflect what I have attempted to illustrate through this series; which is that what we think isn't always the case and the solutions that would make us feel better may not always be the best. There are cost-effective measures we can take which would improve efficiency, reduce fraud and improve benefits in upcoming installments of this series. Keep reading and thanks again for taking the time to comment.

Joshua
08/14/2013 10:27am

Well we hire plenty of Spanish Americans to do hard labor... illegally you don't need an education for that can't blame a struggling economy for lack of jobs one bit.

Bob Melehan
09/13/2014 9:45am

Roanen,
What has not been addressed are the perfectly legal welfare programs which are complete abuses of tax dollars. A close friend who owns a rental property get 95% of the rent sent directly to him from the government throughout some sort of assistance program The tenant is a single mother who make 40K a year as a corrections officer.
So in this case we were not talking about welfare fraud as much as we are talking about BAD government or Government waste. Why should tax payers pay for irresponsible behavior. ?

Mason
08/15/2013 6:01am

I think people forget there will always be about 5% of any population that are lame and lazy.

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Steve d
02/27/2014 6:05am

H

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John Stone
11/08/2012 12:22pm

Hey Roanen,

Sorry i'm commenting so late, but I am interested in welfare fraud and abuse for a paper i'm writing in school. I found a government case study in 2002 showing that the welfare fraud/abuse rate was exactly what you said, right at 2%. Can you provide any more sources for this in more recent years. I know that under Obama welfare spending has increased to around 13% of the yearly budget, but i'm wondering if the % of fraud and abuse has also increased.

Thanks,

John

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Dylan Schoenthaler
11/10/2012 10:26am

Where did you find the 13% Obama increase? I am also writing a paper over welfare fraud and I would like to incorporate this into my paper.

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11/10/2012 9:23pm

Dylan, you can also find historical data and spending trends in earlies posts from this series. I've included several graphs that may help you in your paper. Part 5 specifically dealt with the spending trends of the major welfare categories. Here is a link for it: http://www.roanen.com/1/post/2012/03/welfare-program-trends-welfare-reform-part-5.html

11/10/2012 4:19pm

Hi John. I'm sorry that I didn't respond sooner. With the election being held this week, you can imagine that I was pretty busy. The 2002 study is probably the most definative source for information. I was able to find a few papers and studies that were published in more recent years that included fraud references in them; however, most of them were drawing from what you already have.

There is the welfare fraud testimony given to the House Ways and Means Committee from July of 2002.
In 2004, there was a study by Dorothy Chun titled "Welfare Law, Welfare Fraud and the Moral Regulation of the Never Deserving Poor".
There is a 2006 report by Heather Bullock titled "Attributions for Poverty: A Comparison of Middle-Class and Welfare Recipient Attitudes".
Finally a 2008 study headed by Richelle Swan called "The Untold Story of Welfare Fraud".

I hope these aren't too late to be helpful. Good luck with your paper.

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Dylan Schoenthaler
11/10/2012 10:25am

Hello Roanen,
I too am writing a paper on Welfare fraud. I am having trouble located statistics for recent years. Is there any sites you received your information from? I would be interesting in delving a bit deeper into the subject and facts.
Thanks

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11/10/2012 4:32pm

I can empathize with that challenge, Dylan. Very early on in this series, I talk about the difficulting of finding current, accurate and unbiased data and statistics relating to welfare.

You can find quite a bit of the Labor Deptarment, IRS, Census Burea, Health and Humans Services, Congressional Budget Office and White House data online anymore. I also drew on resources from the Tax Policy Center, Heritage Foundation, Federal Reserve and United Nations. It was a mountain of information and took some time to sift throught it; but, much of it can be found online.

Here's a site that I found particulary useful: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_2012USbn_13bs1n#usgs302

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Dylan Schoenthaler
11/10/2012 5:39pm

Excellent! Thank you! I found this article very intriguing. I'll admit, I didn't fancy the idea of a paper with the topic welfare fraud, but after I started to look more into it, the topic actually became quite interesting! I thought your study was one of the most helpful I had come across in my search. Keep up the good writing!

Dave
01/22/2013 11:35pm

Your data is wrong. 34.2% of the country is not on Welfare, only 4% of the country is. The 34.2%, as noted by the source your retrieved that number from, includes those on Medicaid. Medicaid and Welfare are two totally different programs. If you are going to right a paper you want others to consider professional, do more research and dive more into the truth. Don't just use one source, and you may find better answers to your questions.

http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

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01/28/2013 10:53am

Thank you for your comment, Dave. I intentionally put "on welfare" in quotes to denote that the term is a commonly understood to indicate welfare recipients. In the link I provided, right beside the phrase, you will find a discussion of how that number includes Medicaid recipients as well; and, I identified that Medicaid is a separate budget category from Welfare expenditures. I continued to use that number in this illustration precisely because it is commonly thought of as the welfare number despite the mass media's attempts to convince us that it is closer to 50% and it does not detract from this illustration to use that figure.

I followed the link you provided and the math does not add up for the figures they provide. I see the statistic that only 4.1% of the population is "on welfare". However, just using the Food Stamp figure alone that they provide (46,700,000), this is roughly 15% of the population. Food Stamps are a welfare category. If you add all the figures they provide, you arrive at roughly 18% of US population (though there is certain to be some overlap of indivuals between categories). They have also not included the other housing or disability spending which is categorized as "welfare" under the Federal budget. It would seem that the 4.1% figures is even more suspect than 34.2%.

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Imani Burrell
07/05/2013 9:06am

If that is the case, you are misleading the reader intentionally. Do you think we understood that your " "'s were supposed to mean that you were kidding? 34% is what you state and 4% is the actual figure??? Sounds like you're trying to run a game on us.

07/05/2013 11:10am

I can understand how you may feel that using the 34% figure provided by the US Census Bureau is misleading since it includes Medicaid households. However, I am not able to find a better source with a more accurate figure. 4% is NOT the actual figure. It's not even close.

Jessie
02/06/2013 7:45pm

Just on my block 6 of every 10 neighbors ask for walfare,most of them are doing fraud. It's a shame to see where my taxes go. This goverment should be giving more support to hard working families not to people who won't work.

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02/22/2013 7:56am

Thank you for adding your comment, Jessie. It is disheartening to learn that some engage in fraudulent activity in order to get the benefits of a program that was intended to help those with a true need. I am confident that the execution of the programs can be improved.

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Shelly Peck
12/20/2013 6:35pm

If you REALLY think it's a shame to see where your taxes go, GE made 13 BILLION in profit in 2010 and got a 3.5 BILLION refund. Who do you think has to make up the difference? Right. Taxpayers like you.

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Dave
03/23/2014 1:31am

Shelly, GE EARNED 13 Billion in profit. They provided services that people wanted and were willing to spend their EARNED money on.

As far as the refund, are you going to blame them for following rules established by the federal government?

They provide employment for hundreds of thousands of people. Those people work hard, are reliable, have made excellent decisions in their lives and do not require welfare. Corporations are a good thing. If you think GE is cheating, then don't buy their products, but keep in mind that the government produces nothing and employs people using tax money collected from the private sector. Without the private sector corporations we would have nothing.

Dustin
02/11/2013 10:54am

I was going to write a full response detailing your misleading numbers, but instead I'll just keep it simple.

First, though, 34% of families are not on welfare. 27% of households receive some type of benefit, which could be subsidized lunch programs, medicaid, or food stamps. Only 7% of households receive direct cash assistance.

Also, rather than attacking welfare and medicaid, unless you want to take away public housing from single mothers and healthcare from poor children (you neglect to mention that 50% of those on medicaid are children), why don't you look at other, more relevant tax and spend issues?

There were roughly $1.2 trillion in tax breaks in 2011. Over a trillion dollars in one year! These breaks are also skewed toward wealthier households that can survive without the government assistance.

According to the CBO, the Bush tax cuts cost another $100 billion per year. I know, that's a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of tax breaks, but that is about 20% of the entire budget for poverty assistance programs.

Lastly, we spend nearly a trillion dollars per year on defense. A number of our military bases around the world that we insist on keeping staffed serve no strategic purpose. We continue to make cold war weapons and aircraft for an enemy that is non existent (do we need fighter jets to combat terrorists on a shoestring budget?). Our practice of outsourcing weapons manufacturing to the private sector is far more costly than federalizing arms manufacturing, which is how the USSR was able to keep up with the US for as long as they did during the Cold War.

There, that should be enough. These articles are well written, which tells me you're an intelligent, articulate person. If that's the case, and you're not writing with an agenda, then those facts should be enough to make you reconsider your approach to welfare.

sources:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/09/18/who-receives-benefits-from-the-federal-government-in-six-charts/

http://www.results.org/issues/us_poverty_campaigns/health_care_for_all/medicaid/

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02/22/2013 8:18am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and information, Dustin. 27% may be a more accurate number. I could not find any sources which have a number just for welfare services. The 34% was taken from the US Census Bureau; however, it included Medicaid which is not classified as a welfare program on the Federal Budget. The welfare programs are: Disability, Food, Unemployment, Housing and Work Comp.

It isn't my intention to "attack" any of the programs. I think they provide a good and useful service. At the same time, I believe they can be executed in a different way to make them more beneficial and cost effective. If we are to address any meaningful changes that have a chance of being an actual improvement, we must be able to look at the issue openly and honestly. There is a great deal of emotional sentiment that creeps into the discussion of welfare programs that has led to much misinformation and distortion of reality.

The concept that all who are on welfare are committing fraud is one such irrational emotional argument. Many will use this false idea as single source solution to "fixing" welfare and the Federal budget. The point of this portion of my study was to see how "true" this statement is and how much fraud really costs us. While fraud does exist and does cost us quite a bit of money; it is far from being the biggest welfare issue. Furthermore, even if we were to eliminate it entirely, we would still find that it does not fix our Federal budget issue.

I would also add that the evidence on the tax breaks you mention show that they stimulated the economy in much the same way that welfare spending is intended to do. So while there are costs, just as there is a cost with welfare programs, there are also benefits. Check out this portion of my study which talks about the economic impacts of welfare: http://www.roanen.com/1/post/2012/04/the-economic-impact-of-welfare.html

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03/11/2013 1:23pm

EARTH TO HYPOCRITES!!!!!! Our so called government had been robing us in plain sight for many years and most of us not all (this is called dumbing down of americans) think they really mean it when they say they are for the people and by the people. “So they put their act on and most people who are totaly clueless,buy into this fairy tale of it’s the people on welfare or any social program that is sucking the system dry and taking all the good people of this country’s tax dollars. While the crooks in the brooks brother’s suit live it up with our tax dollars and leave the rest of us fighting over the crumbs…and guess what? Most of us fall for it everytime if they can keep us turned against each other than we donot have time to focus on the real issue’s which is…what’s keeping the american political system from working as well as it should? Career politicians, who twist the truth: they don’t give you the whole picture. They give you only the portion that suits their particular agenda, the same way the media do. Trying to get the public’s mind off the issues, and trying to sell the notion of everyone except them are being corrupt and self-serving (if we are we sure learned from the best). The taxpayers often end up paying for things that don’t benefit from at all. But let them tell it (the republicrats,tea party) we are suppose to believe that it is the welfare queens or anyone on a social welfare program that is taking the tax payers for a ride, i think not! Money dominates political campaigns, when people say they want to run for office, often the first thing anyone asks is not where do you stand on the issues? but how much money can you come up with? “Now people with common sense..where do you think this money comes from? “They claim they donot want we the people to have a dependence on the government but guess what? It’s ok for the U.S. government to spend more and more on corporate welfare, so it’s ok for the politicians, the big banks, members of congress, and big corporation,and lets not for get wall street, to have a dependence on the money of the american taxpayers. Welfare recipients are a small minority in this country. There is no gigantic wave of indigent people with packs of wild children threatening to take over the country,as the GOP want you to believe. A hand-out is fine as long as the hand reaching into our pocket’s is corporate america Ain’t that a kick in the head? I could go on and on about this subject, but why? People are suckers for bull anyway, so why waste my time. Some people will still keep buying into this shit they are pushing..that the traditional theory is by the real crooks is that cutting social programs is the way to prosperity…you poor sacrificial lambs. Cry me a fucking river. BOO HOO!!!!!

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03/12/2013 8:25am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ben. I agree with you that there are way too many attempts to manipulate the People through political lies and misdirection. There is massive theft taking place right in front of our faces while we are kept busy fighting about things that, in comparison, are less significant. You've made a very good case for why we need to start supporting and electing people to offices (at all levels of government) who cannot be bought: who have the integrity & grit to withstand the allure of the money influences. If we'll get behind and support people like that, instead of the Party hacks we're offered, we could have better government. For now, as long as we continue to elect Democrats and Republicans, we're all getting sold down the river.

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04/11/2013 5:48pm

WE ARE LIVING IN THE ENTITLEMENT STATE , AND THIS IS THE VERY REASON OBAMA WAS RE- ELECTED MOST WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO CARE FOR THEM ITS BANKRUPTING OUR COUNTRY.ALSO COLLAGE GRADS ARE WORKING AT WENDY'S ,BURGER KING ETC. UNDER EMPLOYED, THERE TAKING THESE LOWER PAYING JOBS AND THE PEOPLE WHO NORMALLY HAVE THESE JOBS . THERE NOW APPLYING FOR WELFARE ,OR UNEMPLOYMENT . WE NEED THE YOUNGER PEOPLE TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE AN THINK FOR THEMSELVES AND GRAB THE BOOT STRAPS AND BE TOUGHER.

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04/12/2013 12:39pm

Thanks for chiming in Gerald. The government spending situation and the economic conditions are frustrating…to say the least. Helping to take care of us in a pinch is nice but we also need to be inspired and challenged to achieve more. We’ve got a nation full of potential and we’ve managed to dupe most of them into thinking they have to settle for less. It is unfortunate that we have allowed the younger generations to be conditioned to believe that there is only one way to make money: go deep into debt and spend the rest of your life working for someone else. There is a whole lot more opportunity to be had than just that. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy but it’s sure much more rewarding than dependency. I would like it if our governmental institutions did a better job of promoting ingenuity, innovative thinking and entrepreneurship.

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Wesley Rauch
05/15/2013 10:00pm

I only comment to point out a fact that was NOT included in any of the comments so far. For every dollar spent on food stamps (SNAP) the economy gets a stimulus of about $1.75. this might sound counterintuitive, But realize that this spending gives jobs to grocers, farmers, truckers, warehouse employees, etc.

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05/16/2013 12:04pm

Thank you for the comment, Wesley. I get into the economic impact of welfare spending a little further into the series. (http://www.roanen.com/1/post/2012/04/the-economic-impact-of-welfare.html)

I have heard the statistic that every dollar spent through food stamps stimulates the economy by around the amount you mention. In my research, I have found this to be a little misleading. The dollar must first be taken from the economy in order to be reintroduced to the economy through SNAP. The same dollar would be creating jobs for grocers, farmers, truckers and warehouse employees regardless. The gross profit additions of the supply chain apply either way, so most of the proposed “stimulus” is a wash.

Where it does slightly appear to stimulate comes from the idea that the full purchasing power of the dollar is utilized since SNAP purchases are not taxed. While this allows for a bit more produce to be purchased, it often does so at the expense of state and local sales tax revenue. With these rates ranging between 0% and 14%, a case could be made that food stamp spending stimulates the economy by up to 14 to 20 cents per dollar spent.

On the other hand, the dollar is technically borrowed because the Federal budget runs at a deficit. This means that more than just a dollar must be repaid. Additionally, the tax burden that must be assumed to execute the SNAP program removes other dollars from the economy as well - all of which are borrowed too since, in reality, our taxes are paid to the Federal Reserve to repay what we've borrowed. Additionally, many states attempt to make up the loss of sales tax revenue in other ways which also remove an equal amount from the economy. This takes any proposed stimulus into the negative area.

When you calculate all of these factors, I make up you will find, as I have, that it doesn’t really serve as “stimulus”: SNAP spending detracts from the economy. However, the amount is minimal. It does provide a way to keep cash flowing through the economy, with only a tiny amount of loss, by artificially stimulating consumer spending. This is the main purpose of SNAP and other welfare programs.

Danielle S. Franklin
05/19/2013 5:08pm

Excellent report, Roanen. I'm actually doing an essay for a class on the Welfare system in America and this article was immensely helpful on the fraud aspect of welfare. At 17 and working as a janitor it's sickening to see that taxes are be taken out of my hard-earned paycheck to pay for people who are basically stealing it. My family struggles greatly; my father lost his leg to cancer 11 years ago and my mother lost her job 3 years ago when she had a back injury that she's still recovering from. We get aid from social security but my parents are still pulling in what they can so we don't have to go on Welfare so that the money can be put towards families that are struggling even more so than we are. And it hurts to see that some of that money we're not using is going towards these sick people. Sorry for the rambling! Great article.

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05/19/2013 9:21pm

I'm glad you liked this article in the series, Danielle, and I hope it helps you in your essay. I started working at a young age too and, at about your same age, I was engaged in janitorial work as well. It's an often overlooked and undervalued job; yet, it is an important one and worthy of your best effort. You are learning valuable lessons and I applaud you for paying attention to subjects like this even though you are not yet a voter. You and your family know, first hand, that life isn't always easy and I am inspired to hear that your spirit to be self-reliant and seek your own prosperity is still so strong. Stay courageous, Danielle. God is working good things in your life. I'll pray the He brings a little relief too.

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George
11/04/2013 3:16pm

You do realize she admitted her parents are on welfare and are committing fraud by "pulling in whatever they can", which I take as getting work to make extra money which is barred from law if receiving disability insurance. This is what I love about those on the right, they demonize 100% of people receiving help because of 2-4% who abuse it but when they get it, and break the agreements of that help, it is just fine. Hypocrisy at it's best. Also where are the reports to show that the trillion in tax breaks stimulated the economy? I can't find it.

Ryan Hicks
05/21/2013 10:33am

Roanen, thank you for writing this article. It was very informative and interesting. However, I am curious as to why we should focus so hardly on an issue so relatively small. The 2012 expenditures were $3.53 Trillion. With $13.5 Billion in "Welfare" fraud, there seems to be some debate over what does or does not defines welfare; it only amounts to roughly 0.38% of the total budget. As you stated in your first paragraph, some consider Welfare fraud minimal, and given the numbers I'm inclined to agree.
I'm not implying that welfare fraud should be overlooked, but should it be the pinnacle of our focus? I understand that within the confines of this article I should understand it is a main concern, but I would like to hear your opinion as to why I should be focus on Welfare Fraud and not on Wartime Spending, the largely inefficient VA system, or the many problems surrounding Social Security? I believe there are larger savings in those areas at the moment. I apologize if you mentioned these in other articles as I am still reading them.

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05/21/2013 12:24pm

I appreciate your comment, Ryan. Welfare fraud is a serious matter and it is worthy of attention; however, it should not be the primary focus of welfare reform or dominate our attention in discussing welfare programs. In the context of the overall series of articles, it is the fourth major cause of increased welfare costs. The other three are much more significant. I agree that we should be focused on all areas of government spending because the reality is that every dollar used for welfare programs is borrowed. Between military spending, pension programs and healthcare, the Federal budget is exceeded. It all must be addressed otherwise welfare reform doesn’t really make much sense unless the goal is just to slow down the rate at which we go deeper into debt. In the final two installments of this series, I address this more directly.

You can see a more complete picture of fiscal issues I would like to see addressed by visiting the Platform page: http://www.roanen.com/the-platform.html

You can also find answers to budget questions in the Campaign Q&A responses: http://www.roanen.com/2/category/budget/1.html

Thank you for reading, Ryan, and taking the time to comment!

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Ryan Hicks
05/21/2013 1:09pm

Roanen, thank you for replying. I agree we should address all aspects in contrast to just slowing down. From a context point of view, would it not be more accurate to say that all spending has some portion that is borrowed as not one is spent/paid for before the other? With exception of debt interest and principle of course which is required by law. That question was rhetorical and just something to consider, you don’t have to respond.


Again, thank you for your reply and I look forward to reading more of your work. Consider your site bookmarked.

05/21/2013 6:08pm

That is a good point, Ryan. I guess to be most accurate, we would have to say that all spending is borrowed first. The taxes we pay just repay about 2/3 of what is borrowed each year right now.

Tracie
05/27/2013 3:16pm

I do not have to see the false numbers provided by the goverment who has absolutely not enough resources to investigate welfare fraud. I will report that the state of Oregon was provided financial proof that a woman who moved there and is 45 years old, has a degree and never worked there in the 5 years she has resided there and commited welfare fraud. She also after having 5 abortions in her life decides at 42 to have baby with a man who has at least 2 or 3 daughters, none of which he supports. He lives with her and her other two children, one about to be 18 and neither works out of choice. Luckily her eldest graduated, something sadly her 14 year old is already headed to droppoing out of school. She doesn't work yet her 14 year old has missed over 29 days of school which social services stated they can't do anything as there is nothing in place to make parents who sit on their butt all day doing nothing don't even ensure their children go to school and do their homework. Surprise mommy and boyfriend are drug addicts but know how long they need to wait and which drugs exit the system in a couple of days as cops raided and removed her kids for a week after finding 8-9 empty meth bads. They of course gave the kids back after she claims someone planted the drug bags in her house and they waited a week to drug test her although she was charged and released for being under the influence of meth. I lie to you not, social services stated as long as the parent manages their drug habbit, it's better than putting them in foster care. Their words as long as they get high when the kids are at school and not directly exposed. The father of the 1st two has been sending money and buying the kids clothes 2 to 3 times a year, didn't know she was on welfare until they came to him asking for the money. He sent proof he has been sending money which she wasn't reporting, yet to this day nothing has been done for her to be kicked off of welfare nor has she been asked to pay it back. She also has her baby's father living there using the welfare benefits for him that are given to her for the children. At this point I have more respect for drug dealers and prostitutes as they at least work and try to provide for their children. She was making $45,000 in 2008-2009 so why can't she get a job now? And why when reported is this man still living there and she is not being charged with welfare fraud that she has comitted. And yes, her and the eldest son do have iphones. It's ironic but true, it costs a lot more than $25 a month to have an iphone so how does she pay for that and her and her new man's drug habbit. Oh that would be with the non court ordered child support her ex was sending which he provided proof of. Just becasue they only find 2-3% of the ones they investigate, that only tells us too much isn't being reported and the government has made the system to relaxed as people have made it a way of life. I find $800 in our state for a family of 4 when we have two working adults and we don't get that budget ridiculous and that's why in lot of grocery stores, people approach customers asking if they want to by food stamps. They sale $300 worth for $150. That's who they pay for smokes, drugs, booze, iphones, etc. So I'm tired of killing myself, esp being told the Social Security money I'm robbed of each pay period will not be there when I retire but we have money for this bull. Wise up government, those of us sick of giving our money are only going to get worse, I will make sure someone forms an organization. We will call it Working Americans against welfare fraud. Giving to those in need is one thing, those that make it a way of life like the woman welfare has allowed to commit fraud in at least 3 states I know of even spending cash money on one of her abortions instead of her kids, and nothing is ever done, I will not stop. The abuse has to end. Plenty of women lie about their babies daddy living there, and he may even work, but then he should be buying stuff not living on welfare as they are. Why will our government not do anything?

Reply
05/28/2013 12:00pm

You bring up some good points, Tracie. Welfare fraud is real. It is possible that more of it is taking place than is being reported. Without it being reported, it can't be investigated. At the same time, it is also possible that not all reported cases are being investigated. There are several groups that propose the number of investigators is inadequate. Once it is reported and investigated, there is yet another layer of difficulty in taking action which may include legal prosecution. We often have the concept that addressing fraud in welfare should be "easy" but it really isn't. However, the difficulty doesn't mean we shouldn't pursue it either. The point of this entire series is that there are things we can and should be doing to reform the welfare programs to make them more efficient, more effective and reduce the occurrences of fraud. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

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07/22/2013 8:55pm

The percentage may be small, the cost is still quite high. It isn’t enough to make up the $1.5 Trillion Federal budget deficit; but, it is still significant.

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Michael Hardwick
09/02/2013 4:46pm

This is a crooked and misleading report! Approximately 80% of welfare fraud is caused by overbilling the government via crooked doctors, pharmacists and service providers. There is no way that the government can verify all billing. For example, I got my auto fixed and until the mechanic told me, I had no idea how much it would cost nor did I have a way to know if I was being overbilled. That is the situation the government is in, but instead being a man, they try to place the blame on recipients, who they can track. The government gives billions of dollars to help foreign countries and they have no idea what the country does with the money and much of it goes directly to the terrorists that are at war (jihad) with our country--what fucking idiots! If you want to know the real reason why the government is targeting the families instead of the big wigs, read the scathing report in THE JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW & CRIMINOLOGY Vol. 99, No. 3 entitled "THE CRIMINALIZATION OF POVERTY by
KAARYN GUSTAFSON

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jay
09/19/2013 7:04am

Its not the powerless, there is no one who wants to be on welfare. It is the wealthy who are defrauding the American tax payers at least 195 billion dollars a year. That is a crime against the 98%. How UnAmerican it is to be able to live in a country were it is possible to reach such wealth,and then to be so ungrateful to not pay your fair share. We need to be less socially Darwinistic towards those who are poor. The wealthy have fooled Americans into thinking it is the poor that steal. History shows that The super wealthy of this country committed horrific crimes against man and nature to build there empires. It has always been a class war, but it is the war against the poor that has been ongoing since this country's birth. I am way more worried how the wealthy, who will continuously try to take away the American dream which they keep trying to do by collapsing the Banking systems over and over again. Lets talk about that.

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jeff
10/22/2013 10:08pm

why no mention of the billions lost per year to corporate medicaid/are fraud committed by large healthcare providers like hma, tenet or hca? rick scott, the current governor of florida was ceo of hca when it recieved the biggest fine in history for medicare fraud.

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jen
11/04/2013 11:37am

You read my mind jeff.

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Jen
11/04/2013 11:36am

What about corporate welfare? You all seem so pissed off at HUMAN BEINGS that are trying to feed their families for this supposed fraud but could care less about your tax dollars going to the bail out the idiots at JPMorgan, US Bank, etc.... The ones who screw the average Joe and then give themselves millions in bonuses. Oh no we need to take care of that 2% who are willfully defrauding the government of $200 a month in foodstamps! Forget about the real fraudsters out there that have done the real damage to the economy. No lets blame poor people instead. You people are backward or very ignorant. Not sure which one though.

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Dan
03/23/2014 6:39pm

Appreciate the relatively civil discussion here. What I would like to see real light shed on is how many families transfer assets, wait three years and then say mom and/or dad is broke and needs Medicaid for nursing home care, and additional assistance. Isn't this just a firm of legalized fraud? What's the cost of this to the taxpayers?

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Jan
04/18/2014 9:53am

I know someone who receives cash aid, medi-cal, etc and should not be. As a taxpayer it upsets me that she is doing this. Let me give you the same proof I have provided to the local district attorney who has done nothing. I have changed their names to protect the children involved. Judy has been living with Mike since November 2012 in a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house (I have a copy of their lease agreement with BOTH names on it). Mike makes $5700+ per month (I have copies of his paystubs proving this). Children in their home include Barbie (Judy's 15 year old daughter; Judy gets $300+ per month child support)and Henry (Judy's 8 year old son who only lives there part time; Judy is suppose to be paying $200+ per month child support and is currently over $3000 behind in back child support). Judy quit her job in November 2013 and has been on cash aid ever since. Judy and Mike are not married. Judy and Mike have been "trying for a baby for about a year" (facebook) and she is now pregnant. Judy is covered by Mike's insurance as his domestic partner and also has Medi-Cal. I have turned over copies of their lease agreement, his paystubs, their facebook page where they announce their engagement (January 2013) and their facebook page where they announce their pregnancy and Judy still gets cash aid. Her case worker "feels sorry for her". My question is how does a family of 3 1/2 with an income of $5700+ per month qualify for cash aid?

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Ashley
06/23/2014 7:52am

Have you reported it? I think people who don't report fraudulent activity are just as bad as those who are doing it.

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M.A.
04/29/2014 8:41pm

In only two counties in Denver Colorado alone, there was welfare fraud equaling $1,663,504.00 owed in back pay. In Arizona in a 15 month period the found nearly $700-k in EBT fraud in Kansas there is believed to be as many as 7000 EBT card users costing the state approximately $22million. In the state of Florida, investigators found that sales of EBT cards at less than full value results in a $2 million swindle. Welfare fraud is a serious national problem. Perhaps there should be stricter penalties for fraud cases and it is my understand that the number of investigators are minimal compared to the number of complaints to be investigated, so maybe we need to invest a little into detecting and stopping fraud instead of just handing it out to anyone who falsifies an application.

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Cal
09/06/2014 8:47pm

I am relieved to see that their are people who are just as concerned about the issue with welfare fraud as I am. For years I have wrote papers about this issue for academic courses and personal venting. I live in a community where almost every individual in my neighborhood commits welfare fraud. That's why it is difficult to report these cases because it would mean reporting the majority of the community. I stand in the line at the grocery store every day and I watch people with overloaded carts buy tons of food and then go to their luxury cars and then to their homes paid in cash. It is very easy to purchase a home in cash when you work under the table and you don't have to feed your family from your pocket. The worst is when I see neighbors having huge parties, and the almighty bridge card paid for the feast. My family works hard and were college educated and we can not afford lavish cars, parties and oh yea were still renting. So it is a huge slap in the face to tax payers when these criminals flock to the stores and load there carts with junk food, when most tax payers are clipping coupons or relying on the few dollars they save at Walmart. However the worst is the attitude of these individuals who are not humbled but often cocky. I grew up with a grandmother who feed us potatoes and onions if necessary and we never went and begged for help from the government. Don't get me wrong I know their are people who are truly in need but when you are surrounded by people who are just corrupt and greedy it makes it hard to support welfare benefits. I just believe that everyone should be accountable in society who are mentally and physically capable of supporting their selves and family. Thanks for writing this article that is honest and so important to addressing the issue of welfare fraud in society.

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