Massachusetts wants to hike taxes on heels of $30 million welfare fraud, finds citizens unenthusiastic

posted at 3:21 pm on February 6, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Every time government leaders come back to taxpayers for more money, they are saying to you, “As we see it, this government is running like a perfectly well-oiled machine, and there is nowhere possible we could imagine extracting this money except from you.”

In Massachusetts, the juxtaposition of Gov. Deval Patrick’s requests for a grab bag of tax and fee hikes with last week’s revelation of millions in state and federal welfare waste and fraud has Massachusetts residents noticing just how little respect Patrick has for their wallets. I would have thought this realization came with the address, but it’s healthy nonetheless.

The state’s welfare chief Daniel Curley was forced to resign last week after a report found his department had been wasting millions in federal and state taxpayer funds:

The state’s embattled welfare chief was forced to step down yesterday in the wake of a shocking internal report that found that a staggering 47,000 families receiving taxpayer-funded benefits are unaccounted for — and nearly $30 million in food stamp money went to recipients who were not eligible.

The shocking report, released to the Herald last night, found that the Department of Transitional Assistance has lost track of 47,087 households on welfare — or one out of 10 of the total 478,000 who received DTA mailings.

The welfare department also admitted that it overpaid federal food stamp recipients by a whopping $27.8 million since 2010.

And, a possible $25 million a year lost in state taxpayer funds:

A state watchdog agency’s study of information submitted to the state by welfare recipients found errors and eligibility concerns with an average annual cost to taxpayers of about $25 million per year.

According to Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s report, dated on Wednesday and posted on his website but not widely released, investigators discovered potential eligibility concerns that could result in the termination of benefits in about 9 percent of the households receiving benefits under the program known as Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children and designed to provide assistance to the poorest residents of Massachusetts.

In mid-January state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said examiners with the office’s Bureau of Special Investigations found evidence of $1,334,019 in fraudulently obtained public assistance benefits and services.

Bump said examiners completed 1,769 investigations in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 (July through September), identifying 246 people defrauding the state out of food stamps, health care benefits, public housing or cash assistanc

Taxpayers who hear about this blatant fraud and abuse of the money the state takes from them and wonder why the hell it’s coming to them for more money are not heartless; they are sensible. The people who allow money taken from taxpayers to help low-income families to be squandered are the heartless ones. They are the ones who are failing their fellow citizens, both those who give assistance and those who need it. If a private company were engaging in a similar level of abuse of its customers and waste of their money and trust, liberals would rightly decry that company’s betrayal. But their standards are inexplicably different for the government, which is easily less efficient and more abusive than any local cable company, and has the unique ability to compel its “customers” with police force and the threat of incarceration.

Meanwhile, Patrick is asking for $1.02 billion a year in new taxes and fees.

Governor Deval Patrick launched a public campaign Monday to win support for raising taxes to repair and reinvigorate the state’s beleaguered transportation system, seeking ­Beacon Hill approval for $1.02 billion a year in new or higher taxes and fees dedicated to transportation.

In a sign of a shifting political landscape, legislative leaders ­acknowledged that more money is needed to shore up the state’s transportation system and that they are open to discussing tax increases, a nonstarter in previous efforts to ­address the long-simmering transportation funding crisis.

As in Maryland and D.C., this new tax money is for roads and infrastructure. Who could object to that? Well, there are the people who notice the state government has been neglecting that core responsibility only to use it again and again as its rationalization to take more money from them. There are apparently many Bay State residents, including constituents of Democrats, who have not gotten the memo about the “shifting political landscape.”

“Folks are really ticked off,” said state Rep. James R. Miceli (D-Wilmington). “I haven’t seen it like this since 1990. … There’s no support out there whatsoever in my district. They’re not going to bite the bullet.”…

“People are shell-shocked,” said state Rep. Theodore C. Speliotis (D-Danvers). “It’s folks who when they read the Herald about an abuse at the DTA (Department of Transitional Assistance), about EBT cards, they put that together and it really makes people very angry and frustrated. The middle class has always felt they bear the brunt of the burden.”…

“Dead on arrival,” Peterson said. “There is not one person I’ve heard from that’s in favor of this. Not one.”

Patrick and his allies will say the $25 million in wasted annual state money and the $30 million in federal money is a drop in the bucket he must fill to meet the state’s needs, so it’s silly to argue that correcting waste and fraud can fix every fiscal problem. Yes, it is less than he says he needs, but there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Deval, and you must fix it, dear Deval, dear Deval, fix it. Tens of millions of dollars is not a drop in the bucket to normal people who will likely never see a tenth of that amount in their lives.

Watching government officials downplay lost $25 millions while tsk-tsking them to cough up another $1.02 billion has a way of rubbing people the wrong way. Oh, and it cost taxpayers another bundle in overtime pay for DTA employees charged with cleaning up the million-dollar mess it had made.

All this and the nanny staters won’t even let you have a Happy Hour. Liberal paradise, this.

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