It may be the biggest long-running scam in America. Medicare and Medicaid fraud – estimated at somewhere between $60 billion to well over $100 billion a year – makes credit card fraud look like petty theft. Even the illegal drug business takes in less than the crime of scamming the government out of health care dollars intended for the poor and the elderly. Indeed, the annual amount of fraud dwarves the amount of new yearly spending on health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. Obamacare.
Between the ACA and stimulus money, President Barack Obama has committed a half-billion dollars to fighting fraud. New tools, such as strike forces and a computer system that’s modeled on technology used in the private sector, promise to stop fraud in its tracks.
In February, the Health and Human Services Department announced a record recovery of more than $4 billion. But three-quarters of this year’s record recovery stems from the resolution of a lawsuit that began a decade ago, for fraud first committed during the Clinton administration.
Will the Obama adminstration’s new efforts finally put a stop to America’s biggest crime? Or will the feds – who have dedicated and rededicated themselves to stopping such fraud for more than 40 years – fail yet again?
Reason TV talks with Matt Salo, Thomas Scully, and Reason magazine’s Peter Suderman, who agree that despite recent headlines, there’s little reason to think that Medicare and Medicaid fraud will become a thing of the past.
January 26-February 1, 2013
According to Reason, on average, Americans believe the federal government wastes about 47 cents out of every dollar it spends.
According to Pew, 53% of adults say the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms; 43% say it does not. Of those who said yes, 31% believe the federal government is a major threat to their rights and 22% believe it is just a minor threat. According to Reason, 47% of adults believe the less government the better; 46% believe there are more things the government should be doing.
According to Reason, 74% of adults think the federal government spends too much money; 5% say it spends too little; and 14% say it spends the right amount. 21% said the federal government spends too much on defense; 13% said it spends too much on entitlement and welfare programs; and 13% said it spends too much on foreign aid.
According to the Economist, 25% of adults would cut spending and raise taxes to reduce the budget deficit; 45% would only cut spending; 8% would only raise taxes; and 7% wouldn’t do either.
According to Reason, 75% of adults said the budget deficit is a major problem that must be addressed now; 20% said it is a major problem that should be addressed once the economy is better; and 3% said it is not much of a problem.
President Obama: Average approval from early to late January was 52.3% according to RealClearPolitics. Average disapproval was 42.8%. (The average one week ago, which covered early to late January, was 52.2%. Average disapproval was 43.1%)
Here are the polls released this week on Presidential job approval:
- Democracy Corps: 54% of likely voters approve and 44% disapprove.
- Economist: 49% of adults approve and 46% disapprove.
- Reason: 52% of adults approve and 42% disapprove.
Gallup tracks President Obama’s job approval on a weekly basis. The average one week ago (Jan. 14-20, 2012) showed 50% approved and 43% disapproved. The latest weekly numbers available (Jan. 21-27, 2012) showed 52% approve and 43% disapprove. Last year at this time (Jan. 23-29, 2011), 45% approved and 48% disapproved.
Rasmussen conducts a daily tracking poll. One week ago (Jan. 25), 55% approved and 44% disapproved. On Feb. 1, approval was 56%; disapproval was 44%. Last year at this time, the President’s approval was 49% and his disapproval 49%.
Congress: Average approval for early- to late January was 15.4% according to the RealClearPolitics average. Average disapproval was 78.6%. (The average one week ago, which covered early to mid-January, was 15.2%. Average disapproval was 79.3%)
Here are the polls released this week on Congressional job approval:
- Economist: 10% of adults approve and 64% disapprove.
- Reason: 17% of adults approve and 74% disapprove.
Right Track/Wrong Track: According to the RealClearPolitics average, which covered mid- to late January, 37.4% think the country is headed in the right direction while 55.8% think it is headed in the wrong direction. (One week ago, the right track average, which covered mid- to late January, was 36.6%. The wrong track average was 56.4%.)
Here are the polls released this week on the direction of the country:
- Democracy Corps: 32% of likely voters think the country is headed in the right direction and 59% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
- Economist: 34% of adults think the country is headed in the right direction and 50% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
- Rasmussen: 39% of likely voters think the country is headed in the right direction and 54% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
Budget Deficit & Spending:
According to Reason, 17% of adults believe the federal spending increases made over the last 20 years have improved their quality of life; 40% say the increases have reduced their quality of life; and 39% say they have not made much of an impact.
According to Reason, 49% of adults believe reducing federal spending to 1990s levels would help the economy, 12% say it would hurt; and 31% say it would make no difference.
According to Reason, 49% of adults favor cutting defense spending and 45% oppose. 15% say you couldn’t cut any defense spending without affecting U.S. security. 21% believe you could cut between one and nine percent without affecting security; 25% say you could cut between 1% and 24%; 14% say you could cut between 25% and 49%; 5% say you could cut between 50% and 74%; 1% say you could cut between 75% and 99% percent; and 2% say you could cut 100% of defense spending without affecting U.S. security.
Reason asked respondents whether they would support certain policies in order to cut the budget deficit, or in general. According to the poll:
- 33% of adults would support raising taxes on everyone in order to reduce the budget deficit; 65% would oppose.
- 66% of adults would support raising taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce the budget deficit; 31% would oppose.
- 85% of adults would support reducing spending in order to reduce the budget deficit; 12% would oppose.
- In general, 31% would favor raising the Medicare eligibility age; 66% would oppose.
- In general, 40% would favor changing Medicare and Social Security so only those below a certain income level received benefits 56% would oppose.
- In general, 39% would favor changing the way Social Security COLAs are calculated; 55% would oppose.
- In general, 50% would favor eliminating all tax deductions and credits if it lowered overall rates; 42% would oppose.
- In general, 59% would favor eliminating the mortgage tax deduction if it would lower the overall income tax rate; 32% would oppose.
Reason asked what should be done to reduce the budget deficit:
- 36% said spending should be reduced;
- 9% said taxes should be increased or tax reform passed;
- 8% said the economy should improve and jobs should be added;
- 6% said reduce defense spending;
- 5% said reduce politicians’ pay and perks;
- 5% said reduce entitlement and welfare spending;
- 5% said reduce foreign aid;
- 4% cut the size of the federal government; and
- 4% said pay down the national debt.
According to Reason, 13% of adults said the budget deficit should the top priority for the president in his second term. Only the economy (29%) and jobs (19%) received higher percentages.
President Obama approval on the issue:
- Economist: 38% of adults approve and 51% disapprove.
According to Reason, 29% of adults support raising the debt ceiling while 64% oppose.
Economy & Jobs:
According to Reason, 29% of adults think the economy should be the top priority for the president in his second term. 19% said jobs. No other issue received higher percentages.
According to the Economist, 25% of adults believe the economy is getting better, 32% believe it is getting worse; and 36% believe it is stuck in neutral.
According to Gallup, its “Economic Confidence Index improved to -9, from -13 the prior week and -22 during the last week of December. This just beats the previous weekly high of -10 set during the week ending Nov. 4, just before the U.S. presidential election.”
President Obama approval on the issue:
- Economist: 44% of adults approve and 48% disapprove.
- Reason: 48% of adults approve and 47% disapprove.
According to Rasmussen, 45% of likely voters have a somewhat favorable opinion of the health care law, while 51% view it unfavorably.
According to Reason, 45% adults believe the U.S. needs a strong government right now to handle its current complex economic problems. 49% say Americans themselves would be better able to handle today’s problems within a free market that has less government involvement.
According to the Economist, 18% of adults think their taxes will go up a lot as a result of the fiscal cliff deal; 42% believe they will go up some; 22% believe they will go up a little; and 19% believe they won’t go up at all.
According to Reason, 26% of adults say raising taxes on wealthy would reduce the amount the wealthy would work and invest. 68% say it would not.
According to Rasmussen, 48% of adults believe it is possible to balance the federal budget without raising taxes.
According to the Economist, even though the fiscal cliff deal already raised taxes on them, 56% of adults would support increasing taxes on Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year. 29% would oppose.
According to the Economist, 52% of adults would support raising taxes on Americans who earn between $250,000 and $400,000 a year.
According to Reason, 50% would favor eliminating all tax deductions and credits if it lowered overall rates; 42% would oppose.
According to Reason, 59% would favor eliminating the mortgage tax deduction if it would lower the overall income tax rate; 32% would oppose.
View of Government:
According to Pew, 20% of adults are basically content with the federal government; 58% are frustrated; and 19% are angry.
According to Pew, only 3% of adults trust the federal government to do what is right all of the time; 23% say they trust the federal government most of the time; 67% say only some of the time; and 6% say they never trust the federal goverment to do what is right.
Public Notice is an independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.
“After four years of a crappy economy, bipartisan dissatisfaction with bailout economics, and populous revolts on the right and the left, we are seeing basically the exact same government we had on November 6th,” says Reason magazine Editor in Chief Matt Welch. “The status quo, which has never been less popular, has just been ratified.”
And yet, says Welch, big wins on marijuana legalization and gay marriage give limited government types a lot to be happy about.
“We want to give our money to American farmers,” says David Bronner, head of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which uses non-psychoactive hemp in its products. “Why are we continually handing it to Canadians?”
The answer? Because it’s illegal to grow hemp in the United States. You can import hemp from other countries, but home-grown hemp – related to marijuana but lacking any ability to get you high – is strictly verboten in the Land of the Free. Indeed, the feds consider the plant – famously grown by George Washington and one of the most versatile natural substances known to manking – the equivalent of its euphoria-inducing relative.
Bronner supports lifting the ban on growing industrial hemp inside the United States. He was recently arrested outside the White House after protesting the current policy by locking himself in a metal cage with hemp plants. He sat down with Reason’s Mike Riggs to discuss his arrest, the industrial applications of hemp, and the paths to legalization.
“As long as there is not a direct conflict, which the federal government did not do a very good job of pointing to today, the Arizona law gets to stand under the Preemption Doctrine,” says Reason’s Damon Root, who was at the Supreme Court during Wednesday’s oral arguments surrounding Arizona’s controversial immigration law. “The federal government is saying that ‘we have the power to stomp out all of the state experiments in immigration law enforcement.’”
Much like the Health Care arguments before the Court in March, Root does not see this as a good day for the Obama administration, in part due to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s poor performance. “At one point,” Root explains “Justice Sotomayor interrupted [Verrilli] and said “look I am terribly confused by what you are saying.”
Reason’s Nick Gillespie and CATO’s David Boaz join John to explain why ticket scalping, price gouging, insider trading and more may not be so bad after all. http://www.LibertyPen.com
Americans Want to Cut Spending: Q&A with Emily Ekins on new Reason Rupe Public Opinion Survey:
Reason’s Matt Welch, coauthor of the new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America, talks with Emily Ekins, Reason’s polling director, about what the new Reason Rupe Public Opinion Survey tells us about how Americans think about federal spending, and debt.
Ekins argues that Americans primarily want to cut spending, not raise revenue, to deal with the debt crisis.
“[Americans] believe that [cutting spending] will…do more to help the economy than hurt,” Ekins says. “Fifty-seven percent believe that, where as only 20% believe that it would mostly harm the economy.”
The Reason-Rupe survey is online here:
At FreedomFest in July, Reason’s Nick Gillespie talked with Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute about her new book “Why ObamaCare is Wrong for America: How the New Health Care Law Drives Up Costs, Puts Government in Charge of Your Decisions, and Threatens Your Constitutional Rights.”
Held each July in Las Vegas, FreedomFest is attended by around 2,000 limited-government enthusiasts and libertarians a year. Reason.tv spoke with over two dozen speakers and attendees and will be releasing interviews over the coming weeks.
“If aliens ever visit us,” Hawking warned, “I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
Stephen Hawking, who now officially believes far more fervently in ET than YHWH, seems to be engaged in making sure his above quote is a self-fulfilling prophesy. He has joined the militant atheist brigade in an effort to forcibly eject all theological concerns from debates over cosmic origin. The Vatican clerics who censored Galileo at least fought to preserve a coherent and life-affirming system of beliefs.
I can’t think of a comparably exculpatory excuse for modern Westerners such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and most of the charlatans that compose the UN IPCC. Hawking now champions the cold and empty nullity of the void. All of these individuals attempt to curtail debate. They no longer seek to argue the bona fides of their thesis. “Shut Up!” They scientifically explain.
To the detriment of our rotting intellectual edifices, Hawking has fully gone over from Physicist to cheerleader. In his latest work of advocacy The Grand Design the pre-eminent British Physicist explains why he just can’t cheer for Team God anymore.
Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing….Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going. Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.
(HT: Taki’s Magazine)
Richard Dawkins reads this and waxes ecstatic. God has been kicked out of physics, he proclaims. It’s the glorious unapotheosis and what, pray tell, are we left with? What does “kicking God out of Physics” accomplish exactly?
It does what every nihilist ever does. It accomplishes nothing. Even Nietzsche was intelligent enough to express a wise condolence over the passing of God. He was honest enough to admit that he lacked idea number one for what came next.
What Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and now Stephen Hawking fail to understand, for all of their erudite perspicacity, is that as individuals, and as a culture, you have to have both faith and reason. Jettisoning either leaves you riding a moped that just threw a wheel. Reason without a purpose drives us nowhere that is morally intelligent.
People pick up on it really fast when the emperor has no clothes. Dawkins, Hawking, Hitchens, et al. are attempting an epistemic closure on the debate over God’s existence. Nietsche, not God, is dead and increasingly forgotten.
One man burning a Koran can provoke global rioting. Glenn Beck can reintroduce God to political debate and fill the Capital Mall. The people “too intelligent” to believe in the existence of God are looking more arrogant than smart. What Dawkins, Hawking and Hitchens peddle is “settled science” in a class with Albert Gore’s.
What happens, when they succeed, is an ongoing tragedy. God may not play dice with the universe, but he’s more than happy to let you pay your nickel and make your choice. In approximately 1100 AD, Islam formally and doctrinally rejected Hellenic philosophy and epistemology. Abu Hamid al-Ghazli described the divine will of Allah as the “settled science” of the day.
Abu Hamid’s academic defenders argue he simply disputed the methodology how Greeks sought knowledge; not the quest for enlightenment itself. But, by failing to offer any valid alternative, Abu Hamid left his work vulnerable to “hacking” by the theological Luddites of his day. They used Abu Hamid as an intellectual vehicle to successfully shut down what had once been a vibrant and capable engine of creation in what were then scientifically advanced Arabic Societies.
The consequences of Hamid’s works have thus been similar to the Dark Ages of Early Feudal Europe. I see nothing better coming out of the fatwa against God and competing intellectual theories being issued daily by “the credible scientific experts” of the Modern West. They are shutting out a straw man caricature of God for the purpose of temporarily winning an eternal debate.
The results of this folly subtly manifest in a politically correct but technologically declining United States of America. Comparing Japanese Industrial Engineering or Korean Telecommunications to ours gives us a score of USA zee-row.
And this is where the militant atheists and fraudulent UN IPCC Gorons seem to merge in my mind. They both, at the end of the day, have the same deleterious impact. I blogged earlier about how the UN IPCC blacklists were subtly destroying America’s reputation for being an innovator.
Thus, given the Inquisition-like ignorance regnant over the American Scientific profession, that the new Boeing aircraft, The 787 Dreamliner, was built primarily of foreign technology should come as no surprise. The wing, the key technological concept on any aircraft is built in Japan, where no scientist has to pretend to believe anything to stay off some nut-job’s blacklist.
Other parts of The Dreamliner are built in Sweden, Australia, Canada, France, Italy and Russia. The convenient thing to do here is to castigate Boeing for being a “Benedict Arnold Corporation” and “shipping good, high-paying American jobs” abroad to make illicit profits off of cheap, foreign labor. Except, when you want cheap, productive labor, you don’t go to France, Japan or Sweden. You go to those places to get something else America no longer offers – free, unfettered intellectual inquiry.
Say what you will about the Catholics who silenced Gallileo and the Islamic Obscurantists that “interpreted” Abu Hamid al-Ghazli and killed the Enlightenment of The Baghdad Caliphate. At the end of the day, as the twilight faded, they all passed into darkness at least believing. I don’t know if I can even offer Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins any similar tribute as the universal laws suck their essence out into the void.
Perhaps the aliens, who in Hawking’s learned polemics would harvest our bodies like the grains in the fields, have already landed. They seek to kill our knowledge and kill our faith. Thereby, the will to resist and the technology to fight on dissipate as the consequence of a nefarious assassination of learning, and independent thought.