With the midterm elections looming on Tuesday and the federal deficit soaring to record highs, politicians across the country have been emphasizing the need to cut wasteful government spending in Washington. They might consider putting a stop to sending money to dead people.
In the last decade the government has sent over $1 billion to approximately 250,000 dead people, according to a new report from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Coburn's office said it came up with the eye-opening statistic after reviewing government audits and reports by Congress, the Government Accountability Office, and various inspectors general at federal agencies.
"Nothing represents the stupidity of wasteful Washington spending more than directing a billion taxpayer dollars to the deceased. This practice is disgraceful and, in many cases, robs the living of promised benefits," Coburn said in a statement.
The problem can be found all over the federal government, according to the numbers cited in the report. The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in stimulus money to 71,000 dead people and $40 million in benefit payments to 1,760 dead people.
The Department of Agriculture sent $1 billion in farming subsidies to dead farmers.
The Department of Health & Human Services sent $4 million for heating and cooling costs to 11,000 dead people.
The Department of Housing & Urban Development sent $15 million in housing aid to 4,000 households with at least one dead person.
Medicare paid $92 million in claims for medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors, plus another $8 million in supplies prescribed for dead patients.
Medicaid, meanwhile, paid $700,000 in claims for prescriptions for controlled substances written for 1,800 dead patients.
Where does all the money actually go? In some cases to dormant bank accounts, but in most cases, to relatives of the deceased, the report found.
The blame, Coburn said, lies with Congress. "Congress itself created this mess by allowing poorly designed programs to continue unchecked," Coburn stated. "If Congress is ready to get serious about spending restraint, ending subsidies for deceased people is a sensible place to start."
It's hard to argue with that.