President Obama signed into law today his Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, whose name succinctly and accurately describes its goal: to eradicate improper government payouts by $50 billion within two years. Saying the legislation would cut down on “waste, fraud and abuse,” Obama then added that it was a step toward the government he’d envisioned since his campaign:
Back when I first started campaigning for office, I said I wanted to change the way Washington works so that it works for the American people. I meant making government more open and more transparent and more responsive to the needs of the people. I meant getting rid of the waste and inefficiencies that squander the people’s hard-earned money. And I meant finally revamping the systems that undermine our efficiency and threaten our security and fail to serve the interests of the American people.
Last year, improper government payouts cost the nation more than $100 billion, the largest sum ever and enough to wage war in Afghanistan for 200 days. Just how is the government losing billions of dollars? There are many ways, but over past three years alone, more than $180 million in benefits was sent to people who were dead, and $230 million more was sent to fugitives and people in prison. By increasing audits and establishing a central Do Not Pay list for all government agencies to access, Obama hopes to see those amounts dwindle to zero.
While not a major piece of legislation, this act—one in which our government takes a proactive approach to saving taxpayer dollars—is one that, one would imagine, the fiscally responsible Tea Party movement is supporting en masse. Alas, after contacting three national Tea Party organizations, none responded to my requests for comment.