The nation’s food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provided a record $74.6 billion in benefits to needy Americans in Fiscal Year 2012 — paying out $2 billion too much, according to the annual quality control report for FY 2012, the most recent year for which data is available.
And only in Washington could that $2 billion in overpayments be viewed as a good thing.
Combining the $2,069,402,427 in overpayments with the $484,885,314 in underpayments for fiscal 2012 yields a “payment error rate” of 3.42 percent. “This remains the lowest national payment error rate in the history of SNAP,” the report noted. (The 3.42 percent payment error rate is the sum of the FY 2012 overpayment rate — 2.77 percent — and the underpayment rate –0.65 percent.)
The data show the payment error rate has declined over time, from 5.64% in FY 2007; 5.01% in FY 2008; 4.36% in FY 2009; 3.81% in FY 2010; 3.80% in FY 2011; and the record low 3.42% in the latest FY 2012 report.
But over a five-year period, covering most of the Obama presidency, the size of the SNAP program — both in dollars and the amount of overpayments — has greatly increased.
Read the full article at CNSNews.com.
According to testimony to be delivered before a House Ways and Means subcommittee, undercover GAO investigators tried to obtain health plans for a dozen fictitious applicants online or by phone, using invalid or missing Social Security numbers or inaccurate citizenship information.
All but one of the fake applicants ended up getting subsidized coverage — and have kept it. In one instance, an application was denied but then approved on a second try. In six other attempts to sign up fake applicants via in-person assisters, just one assister accurately told an investigator that the applicant’s income was too high for a subsidy.
House Republicans were eager for early information because the findings reinforce their contention that the Obama administration set up the health insurance marketplace in ways that leave it vulnerable to fraud and waste of taxpayer money. The allegation that HealthCare.gov does not properly verify the identity and eligibility of consumers has been one of several lines of attack that congressional Republicans have used in trying to discredit the 2010 Affordable Care Act and the way administration officials set it in motion.
The GAO’s account of fictitious applicants obtaining subsidized coverage goes beyond a related problem that surfaced this spring and that the investigators also cited: The government may be paying incorrect insurance subsidies to a significant share of the 5.4 million Americans who signed up for health plans for this year through the federal marketplace.
Read the full article at the Washington Post.
Nearly all of the illegal immigrant children who have been apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last two years have been teenagers.
According to a new Pew Research report, in fiscal year 2013, 91% of illegal immigrant “children” apprehended at the border were teenagers. Of the nearly 60,000 illegal immigrant “children” who were apprehended since October of last year, 84% have been teenagers.
Pew obtained the government figures through a Freedom of Information Act request, and the numbers paint “the first publicly available detailed portrait of the age and home country of child migrants —unaccompanied and accompanied – caught at the U.S.-Mexico border from Oct. 1, 2012, to May 31, 2014.”
There have been nearly 60,000 illegal immigrant children who have crossed the border since October of last year, and federal officials estimate at least 150,000 more will enter the country in the next fiscal year. The number of illegal immigrant children entering the nation from Central America drastically spiked after President Barack Obama enacted his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gave temporary amnesty to certain DREAMers in 2012.
However, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration of Children and Families (ACF) said 96 percent of the 45,157 unaccompanied alien children who were in the custody of HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) have been “discharged” to a “sponsor” in the United States.
Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director for the Office of Public Affairs at ACF, told CNSNews.com that in 2014 (through the month of June), 96 percent of the 45,157 children — or 43,341 of them — who were transferred from the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the ORR have been placed with sponsors inside the United States, including with family members.
“Over half of the sponsors are parents of the child,” Wolfe said, citing the percentage of children with this placement status at 55 percent.
Some of the families that are receiving these children aliens are themselves in the country illegally.
For the past six months, welfare beneficiaries in Colorado have repeatedly withdrawn their cash benefits at marijuana retailers and dispensaries, according to a new analysis by National Review Online. Such apparent abuses have caught the eye of Colorado’s executive and legislative powers alike, and the state has launched an effort to curb them.
At least 259 times in the first six months of legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, beneficiaries used their electronic-benefit transfer (EBT) cards to access public assistance at weed retailers and dispensaries, withdrawing a total of $23,608.53 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash, NRO’s examination found.
In 2012, the latest fiscal year available, Colorado used $124 million in TANF money from the federal government, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Withdrawals at marijuana establishments represented only a tiny fraction of the more than 500,000 total EBT transactions that have occurred since recreational weed became legal in Colorado on January 1. And it’s impossible to determine how much of that welfare money actually was used to buy pot, given that cash benefits are fungible and some of these establishments also sell groceries.
Last session, some Colorado legislators attempted to pass a bill banning TANF withdrawals at marijuana establishments, but Democrats blocked it. The state’s Republicans did succeed, however, in passing a budget amendment that would preclude such use. Because of a legislative technicality, however, the amendment “doesn’t have the power and teeth behind it that a statute does,” says Colorado Springs representative Dan Nordberg, one of the key proponents of the ban. Republican lawmakers plan to re-introduce stronger legislation next session.
Read the full article at The National Review.
On July 7, 2014, the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge in order to restore quiet to the region and stop Hamas terrorism. The single goal of the operation is to stop Hamas’ incessant rocket attacks against Israel’s civilians.
The operation is ongoing, and since the start of the operation over 1000 rockets have been launched at Israel. Of those, 754 have hit Israel and approximately 201 were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile defense system.
Hamas has fired long range rockets at cities across Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Rockets such as the M-302 – the same missiles confiscated from the KLOS-C weapons seizure – have long range capabilities and endanger the majority if Israel’s population. Rocket sirens have sounded non-stop across Israel, sending civilians running for shelter.
In response to these rocket attacks, the IDF has targeted over 1,474 terror targets using precision attacks to pinpoint terrorists and terror infrastructure while limiting civilian casualties.
The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session on Wednesday to consider a draft resolution that condemns Israel repeatedly for its military offensive against Hamas, but does not mention the terrorist group once.
The resolution calls for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to probe allegations that Israel has committed war crimes and violated international law.
Alongside multiple criticisms of Israel – whose conduct the council “condemns,” “strongly condemns” and “condemns in the strongest terms” – there is a single reference in the three-page typewritten draft to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
For the second time in less than a week, rockets have been found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body said.
UNRWA, the UN agency charged with overseeing humanitarian efforts in Gaza, said it immediately “informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.” The organization again pledged to launch a “comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.”
Israeli officials reacted furiously to the discovery. “How many more schools will have to be abused by Hamas missile squads before the international community will intervene,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel. “How many times can it turn its head the other way and pretend that it just doesn’t see?”
Last Wednesday, UNRWA found some 20 rockets in a school under its auspices, also during a standard inspection. A spokesperson for UNRWA said the organization gave the rockets to “local authorities,” which answer to the Hamas-backed unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In other words, the UN handed the rockets over to the terrorists.