The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the federal government paid up to $36 million in farm subsidies to dead people between 2008 and 2012.

In a 25-page report titled “USDA Needs to Do More to Prevent Improper Payments to Deceased Individuals,” the GAO determined that several U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies “do not have procedures in place consistent with federal internal control standards to prevent potentially improper subsidies on behalf of deceased individuals.” Among other findings, the GAO determined:

—The USDA’s Risk Management Agency paid up to $22 million in subsidies and allowances on behalf of an estimated 3,434 program policyholders two or more years after death;
—The USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service made an estimated $10.6 million in payments on behalf of 1,103 deceased individuals one year or more after death;
—The USDA’s Farm Service Agency paid $3.3 million in benefits to thousands of deceased individuals, of which it has managed to recover approximately $1 million.

The wasted money was part of the USDA’s $20 billion annual spending on federal programs that support farm income, conserve natural resources, and help farmers manage risks from natural disasters.

The GAO’s report comes at a politically sensitive time, as Congress prepares to negotiate a new trillion-dollar farm bill. The process has been tense and divisive thus far; House Speaker John Boehner’s initial efforts to pass the bill resulted in a humiliating defeat due to House Republicans’ insistence that it did not cut enough from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Boehner later passed a farm bill that left the agricultural subsidies — including those that have apparently been paid to dead people — intact, while dropping food stamps and nutrition programs altogether.

Although the $36 million in wasted subsidies is a relative drop in the bucket considering the overall size of the bill, it could be a consequential political symbol. Republicans have repeatedly cited fraud as a reason to cut SNAP — even though error rates in the program are actually at an all-time low — raising the question of why they are not raising similar concerns about agricultural subsidies.

Even if House Republicans won’t question the legitimacy of the subsidies, the GAO will. Its report pointedly questions “whether these farm safety net programs are benefiting the agricultural sector as intended.”

The full GAO report can be read here.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

David Perdue
David Perdue

With most conservative candidates in primary races across the country pledging allegiance to former President Trump and disseminating his Big Lie, what is a Republican candidate to do to get ahead? Why, just accuse their Republican opponent of having ties to China, of course!

Spurious, misleading, and even exaggerated accusations of connections with China are a source of anxiety for Republicans in the 2022 races, while campaign strategists and candidates have labeled such allegations a “prime attack in a Republican primary,” according to the Washington Post.

Keep reading... Show less

John Eastman

Former Trump attorney John Eastman used his University of Colorado email account to collude with a Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania to formulate a pretext to seat Trump electors in a state Joe Biden won by nearly 82,000 votes. It was a last ditch-bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election, new emails obtained by the House Select Committee show.

Eastman devised a sinister idea to label tens of thousands of absentee ballots illegitimate, thus giving then-President Trump the state’s popular vote lead. This method, Eastman proposed, “would help provide some cover,” beneath which Republicans could swap Biden’s electors with sham electors for Trump who would subvert the 2020 elections.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}