Friday, October 8, 2010

72,000 Deceased and 17,000 Prisoners Received Stimulus Payouts

I believe it will be difficult for either the deceased or the prisoner population to stimulate the economy via shopping, but really what is $22.3 million among friends?  It's a rounding error ON a rounding error.

American prisoners are living a good life, 3 square meals a day, stimulus checks, homebuyer tax credits... the minute they walk out the door the taxpayer has provided them with spending money for the mall, and a nice chunk of change towards their first home.  [Jun 24, 2010: Federal Home Buyer Tax Credit Malfeasance Includes 1295 Inmates]  And they call us a cruel society?

I can understand some small proportion of prisoners receiving the checks because of time lag (i.e. someone could be free when the calculation of who will get checks was formed, but in prison by the time the check is mailed) but I wonder who cashed the 50% of these dead person checks that were never returned... oh well it's only $9 million of taxpayer largesse; walking around money.

Via AP:
  • More than 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each went to people who were either dead or in prison, a government investigator says in a new report.  The payments, which were part of last year's massive economic recovery package, were meant to increase consumer spending to help stimulate the economy.
  • But about $18 million went to nearly 72,000 people who were dead, according to the report by the Social Security Administration's inspector general. The report estimates that a little more than half of those payments were returned.
  • An additional $4.3 million went to more than 17,000 prison inmates, the report said. Most of the inmates, it turns out, were eligible to get the payments because they were newly incarcerated and had been receiving Social Security before they were locked up. (fair enough)
  • In all, the $250 payments were sent to about 52 million people who receive either Social Security or Supplemental Security Income, at a cost of about $13 billion.   People were eligible for payments if they were getting benefits during any one of the three months before the law was passed in February 2009.>
  • Dead people were ineligible to get the payments. But, the report said, there is no provision in the law to recover payments incorrectly sent to dead people.

What expensive lesson did the government learn from this exercise?
  • The inspector general's report said that if similar payments are authorized in the future, prison inmates should be ineligible and the government should be able to recover payments made to dead people.
Alex, I'll take Common Sense for $22.3 million.

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