As we inch closer to the fiscal cliff, everyone seems to be ignoring the role that federal employees could play in solving the problem.  Americans have more options than raising taxes and/or decreasing spending to generate the $500 billion the White House is looking for. Substantially increasing the size of the federal workforce that roots out fraud could bring in hundreds of billions. Here are some numbers we hope all politicians keep in mind as they go to the bargaining table.

In 2010 GAO reported that there were at least $48 billion in improper payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Attorney General estimated it to be as high as $90 billion, much of that going to international organized crime groups defrauding our government. The Rand Corporation estimated the figure to be $98 billion.

The IRS regularly discloses the amount of taxes not being paid in violation of the tax laws to be approximately $385 billion. Take a quick look at the map it publishes to identify where the errors and fraud occur the most.

If these agencies were given more staff to just to go after the cheats, even a 33% rate of success would generate $140 billion more a year.  If a similar approach was taken in DoD and other agencies that distribute benefits or pay contractors, even more would be available to run our country with a low or no debt effect.

It should be fun to watch the inner struggle among those politicians vehemently opposed to any tax increase because typically they are also opposed to increased government spending.  These are the ones quick to mouth the slogan, “Government is the problem, not the solution.” The more they are willing to increase federal spending in the fraud avoidance, detection and prosecution areas the better argument they have to moderate the tax increase. Which will they choose? Which do they detest more?

Union leaders should urge members to let their Congressional reps know that a “Fight Fraud First” solution is an excellent one. It punishes only those cheating and stealing from our government, creates a few thousand jobs for which returning war veterans will have preference, and relieves the pressure to cut spending from federal programs that may be important to them or their constituents.

(FEDSMILL is not taking a stand either way on tax increases. However, we are strongly opposed to those politicians whose kneejerk reaction to every federal funding problem is to mindlessly cut spending.)

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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