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Tags: 1 Billion | to | Dead | People

Feds Shell Out $1 Billion to Dead People

By    |   Sunday, 07 November 2010 06:29 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama No Longer ‘Most Powerful in World’
2. Divided Congress Bodes Well for Economy
3. Feds Shell Out $1 Billion to Dead People
4. Michelle Obama Ripped for ‘Food Desert’ Spree
5. China Builds ‘Ghost Town’ in Inner Mongolia

1. Obama No Longer ‘Most Powerful in World’

Chinese President Hu Jintao has replaced President Barack Obama at the top of Forbes magazine’s annual list of “The Most Powerful People in the World.”

Obama headed the list last year, followed by the Chinese leader.

Forbes describes Hu as: “Paramount political leader of more people than anyone else on the planet; exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of world's population. Unlike Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts.”

As for No. 2 on the list, Forbes states: “Obama's Democrats suffered a mighty blow in U.S. midterm elections, with the president decisively losing support of the House of Representatives, and barely holding onto the Senate. It's quite a come-down for last year's most powerful person, who after enacting widespread reforms in his first two years in office will be hard-pressed to implement his agenda in the next two.”

Next on the list is Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia: “Absolute ruler of desert kingdom that contains the world's largest crude oil reserves, two holiest sites in Islam.”

Rounding out the top 10 are Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Pope Benedict XVI, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Others on the list of 68 people are News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch (No. 13), Apple CEO Steve Jobs (17), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (20), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (24), Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei (26), and al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden (57).

Editor's Note:

2. Divided Congress Bodes Well for Economy

If the recent past is any indication, the American economy will prosper in the next few years with the new Congress divided between the two parties.

“Since 1970, the levers of federal government — the White House, Senate and House of Representatives — have been in the hands of one party, whether Republican or Democrat, 30 percent of the time,” observes Bloomberg News columnist Kevin Hassett.

“By most any measure, the U.S. economy has been healthier the other 70 percent of the time.”

Since 1981, median GDP has increased 3.3 percent in years when Washington was divided — as it will be now with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats controlling the Senate and White House — and 2.8 percent when it was unified.

Median unemployment has been 6.1 percent under one-party rule since 1970, and 5.7 percent when rule is divided. Since 1993, the spread is even greater — 6 percent compared to 4.9 percent.

Divided rule has proved a boon for the stock market as well. Since 1970, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen at a median rate of 13.5 percent per year when Washington is divided, and just 9 percent when it is unified. Since 1993, the spread is again greater — 19.5 percent compared to 9 percent.

Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an adviser to John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, offers two possible explanations for the phenomenon.

“Under the ‘politicians are idiots’ view, divided governments tend to be gridlocked, and gridlock is good,” he writes. “A paralyzed government is a boon to the economy because the changes that politicians contrive tend to be harmful.

“Under the ‘politicians are sensible’ view, divided governments produce better lawmaking because only sensible policies can achieve the necessary bipartisan support. When government is controlled by one party, common sense is cast aside as those in power use their muscle to reward friends and punish enemies.”

Editor's Note:

3. Feds Shell Out $1 Billion to Dead People

The federal government has paid out well over $1 billion to 250,000 deceased individuals over the past decade — and can’t figure out how to fix the problem, according to a new report from Sen. Tom Coburn.

“Washington paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills,” the Oklahoma Republican’s report says.

Among the disclosures, based on a review of government audits and reports by the Government Accountability Office, inspectors general, and Congress:

● The Social Security Administration sent $18 million in stimulus funds to 71,688 dead people, and $40.3 million in questionable benefit payments to 1,760 deceased individuals.

● The Department of Agriculture sent $1.1 billion in farming subsidies to dead farmers.

● The Department of Health and Human Services sent $3.9 million to 11,000 dead people to help pay heating and cooling costs.

● Medicare paid up to $92 million in claims for medical supplies prescribed by dead doctors and $8.2 million for medical supplies prescribed for dead patients.

In some cases, the payments went to dormant bank accounts, while in others they landed in the pockets of living people who are “defrauding the system by collecting benefits meant for a now-deceased relative,” according to Coburn’s report.

The detected waste “is likely only a small picture of a much larger problem,” the report notes.

In June, the Obama administration announced new steps to avert payments to the deceased. Federal agencies are now required to check their payees against the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.

“But SSA admits its records are fraught with errors,” the report states. “It is extremely expensive and may even be impossible to determine if a person is alive or dead, particularly if the person died many years ago.”

Coburn concludes: “At this point in our nation’s history, it is of the utmost importance that every tax dollar spent by the government be put to good use. This means spending within our means on the living, not outside our means on the dead.”

Editor's Note:

4. Michelle Obama Ripped for ‘Food Desert’ Spree

First lady Michelle Obama has the dubious distinction of winning this week’s “Golden Hookah” award from CNSNews for her call to spend $400 million fighting “food deserts.”

Food deserts are urban neighborhoods and rural towns with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Obama is calling on Congress to create a $400-million-a-year program to encourage the establishment of supermarkets in these areas.

“To do that, we’re creating a Healthy Food Financing Initiative that’s going to invest $400 million a year — and leverage hundreds of millions more from the private sector — to bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places like convenience stores carry healthier options,” she said.

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) is a collaboration among the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services.

“Pushing this $400-million food-desert-eradication plan has been a staple of Michelle Obama’s stump speeches,” CNSNews said.

“So, while the agriculture bill that’s been working its way through Congress includes an earmark of ‘only’ $40 million for the program, this week’s Golden Hookah goes to the first lady for asking taxpayers to pony up $400 million a year to pay for her anti-food desert pipe dream.”

CNSNews confers its Golden Hookah on government agencies that win the “What Were They Smoking Award?” for outrageous government spending.

The thinking behind the HFFI is that American children are growing fat because their parents cannot get to a supermarket to buy fruits and vegetables without boarding a bus or riding a taxi.

In a March 10 speech, the first lady said: "Right now, 23.5 million Americans, including 6.5 million kids, live in what we call 'food deserts' — these are areas without a supermarket. And as a result these families wind up buying their groceries at the local gas station or convenience store, places that offer few, if any, healthy options.

"Let's move to ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable foods in their community."

But in the 2008 farm bill, Congress mandated a $500,000 study of "food deserts," and the report released in 2009 disclosed that lower-income Americans actually live closer to supermarkets than higher-income Americans.

"Overall, median distance to the nearest supermarket is 0.85 miles," said the Agriculture Department report. "Median distance for low-income individuals is about 0.1 of a mile less than for those with higher income, and a greater share of low-income individuals (61.8 percent) have high or medium access to supermarkets than those with higher income (56.1 percent)."

According to the report, only 0.1 percent — one-tenth of one percent — of Americans living in low-income areas more than one mile from a supermarket take public transit to the store.

For them, Michelle Obama would create a new $400 million entitlement.

Editor's Note:

5. China Builds ‘Ghost Town’ in Inner Mongolia

The thinking might have been: Build it, and they will come.

The Chinese government built it from the ground up, a sprawling city complete with museums, library, opera house, and homes and apartments for 300,000 people.

But they didn’t come, and today the city stands like a ghost town in the grasslands and desert of Inner Mongolia.

The city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia has the highest per capita GDP of any city in China, thanks to the region’s vast deposits of coal and natural gas. When the river ran dry, the government decided six years ago to “move” the city to a water supply 15 miles away. It began constructing the new city of Kangbashi for the residents of Ordos and others expected to flock to the region for its well-paying jobs.

A reporter who visited Kangbashi in October 2009 found a state-of-the-art metropolis full of architectural marvels, with sculpture gardens and a vast public square. But the city was virtually empty, except for its massive municipal complex.

Officials said they expected the city to house 100,000 this year and 300,000 by 2020. They also said the population had reached 50,000, “which seems improbable given that pedestrians on the street were outnumbered by street sweepers,” the reporter wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.

More recently, a journalist who visited Kangbashi reported on National Public Radio that the city remains a virtual ghost town today, and many of the 30,000 residents who do live there are in fact construction workers still building row upon row of high-rise apartments that for the most part stand empty.

The city, the NPR report noted, is “just waiting for people to move in. Problem is, nobody seems to have gotten the memo. Just 30,000 people live in a city built for 300,000.”

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Obama No Longer Most Powerful in World 2. Divided Congress Bodes Well for Economy 3. Feds Shell Out $1 Billion to Dead People 4. Michelle Obama Ripped for Food Desert Spree 5. China Builds Ghost Town in...
1 Billion,to,Dead,People
Sunday, 07 November 2010 06:29 PM
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