James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Waste, fraud and abuse at Social Security

March 30, 2010

The super-insightful Andrew Biggs looks how the Crist-Rubio debate dealt with Social Security — and finds laughable the former’s comments about restoring the system’s long-term solvency by rooting out waste, fraud and abuse:

As a general rule, when a politician mentions “waste, fraud, and abuse” it should be interpreted the same as if the candidate wore a sign saying “I’m not serious.” That’s not to say that we don’t have problems with fraud, but that the real problem is simply that the government spends too much.

This is particularly so in the case of Social Security, which is one of the most efficient federal government programs. Social Security takes money from young workers, calculates a benefit for retirees based on their earnings and their years in the workforce, and cuts them a check. There’s not a lot of discretion involved, which reduces chances for things to go wrong. Sure, there are problems in the disability program and I’m confident there are folks getting disability benefits who actually could work. But that’s the fault of the eligibility criteria passed by Congress in the 1980s more than any problem of vetting applicants by the Social Security Administration. On this issue, at least, Crist was very unimpressive.

What did impress me, though, was the fact that Rubio—who, after all, is running for the Senate from Florida—was willing to be upfront about the hard choices awaiting us on Social Security. In part this may be due to the character of the candidate, who struck me as a principled conservative.

Comments

So hard to imagine there is waste in the social security system

 

There is much more fraud and waste in the defense department than SS, it is an elitist and often racist approach to blame poor people for all of the problems.

Social Security has enough money to pay benefits until 2037 or so, we need to work on that but bringing down costs in areas that are wasteful in DC will take care of the situation over time.

Posted by Joe Stafura | Report as abusive
 

Joe, your casual use of the race card betrays the shallowness of your thinking. Social Security is the major source of retirement income for over 60% of American seniors. The race of the recipients is utterly irrelevant when so many Americans are involved. Further, how is it “blaming poor people” to address problems in the system? Unless, that is, it is the poor people who are committing the supposed waste, fraud, and abuse. But no one here is saying that.

I agree that there is waste, fraud, and abuse in other government departments. It’s the nature of big government to create these opportunities. When a system gets too big to supervise, some people will try to make a fast buck by gaming the system. Beyond that, a huge bureaucracy is inherently inefficient.

The whole point of the post, though, is that neither Crist, nor any other fast-talking politician, is serious about finding and eliminating WFA in any government program.

Posted by NGP3 | Report as abusive
 

First Older citizens paid along with their employers out of their own monthly earnings into the social security retirement insurance. So those checkks being cutare what we paid into. It is not taken from younger workers. The government stole what older workers paid into for their retirement and illegally took it for war. This was money that did not belong to the government it is not nor has it ever been entitlements not any more than if someone opens a bank account to save for their future and the banker steals it for his own use. Theft is theft and the government had no right to steal social security insurance paid into by workers of years past.

A lot of the waste is done by social security administration workers who do not follow their own rules and demand recipeints follow them and who waste time and paper who work but do not want to work. Pigs at government trough. Go sit in a SS office someday or employment office or DSHS office and watch how many “Breaks
” they take and if you watch close some play computer games and eventually when they feel like it call someone to their desk but they are lazy and NOT earning their wage. Most are like this. They get paid too much money and do NOT want to help. Most also are rude and act we are taking money right out of their pocket. When it is money WE paid into it is NOT their money and they would not have a job but for SS or unemployment paid insurance paid by employees and employers. People get mad at the wrong people and think we are not entitled to it. YES we are we PAID into it out of our hard earned wages and long hours of work.

Posted by celanith | Report as abusive
 

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