U.S. Farmers “Drowning” in Corn

Just another example of perverse incentives from the Farm Bill.

“We’re going to drown in corn this year.”

The assessment, from Jeff Brown, 45 years old, a fifth-generation farmer outside Decatur, Ill., sums up the view of most people who grow, trade or process corn as they brace for another record U.S. harvest.

Months of wet weather have fueled expectations for a corn crop so large that mounds of the grain will be a common sight across the Midwest after the harvest, which starts next month.

The U.S. Agriculture Department projected last week that production will exceed 14 billion bushels, topping last year’s historic harvest.

Read the rest here.

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The farm bill is deeply flawed and born of an era in American farm life that hasn’t even existed for generations. It’s time we seek real reform on this billion-dollar program.

Ferguson’s chaos and irresponsible spending

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the last few days, you’ve probably heard about the chaos happening just outside St. Louis, Missouri, in the town of Ferguson.

A disputed officer-involved shooting has sparked both peaceful protests and looting, not to mention lots of national attention. The initial events that transpired are still unclear, and it’s ultimately not our place to comment on what the facts will turn out to be.

But regardless of the specifics of the case, the shooting in Ferguson has also raised questions about what has transpired in its aftermath.

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$60 billion lost to Medicare fraud: And it’s getting worse

Friday’s New York Times contains an unsettling look at the true scope of fraud and waste in the Medicare system.

The ordinary looking office building in a suburb of Baltimore gives no hint of the high-tech detective work going on inside. A $100 million system churns through complicated medical claims, searching for suspicious patterns and posting the findings on a giant screen.

Hundreds of miles away in a strip mall north of Miami, more than 60 people — prosecutors, F.B.I. agents, health care investigators, paralegals and even a forensic nurse — sort through documents and telephone logs looking for evidence of fraudulent Medicare billing. A warehouse in the back holds fruits of their efforts: wheelchairs, boxes of knee braces and other medical devices that investigators say amount to props for false claims.

The Obama administration’s declared war on health care fraud, costing some $600 million a year, has a remarkable new look in places like Baltimore and Miami. But even with the fancy computers and expert teams, the government is not close to defeating the fraudsters. And even the effort designed to combat the fraud may be in large part to blame.

As the report notes, “fraud and systematic overcharging” account for an estimated $60 billion lost per year — at least. But attempts to stop it? Mismanagement and territorialism run rampant, and the administration was able to recover only $4.3 billion last year. It’s so bad that the agency that oversees the anti-fraud efforts is able to review only 3 million out of around 1.2 billion claims each year.

Read the entire report here, and keep an eye out for future research and information as the story progresses. This is all the more reason to continue to demand real accountability and spending reform. It’s our money. We deserve better.

Last month, U.S. ran $96 billion over budget

The CBO reported last week that the federal government ran a deficit of $462 billion during fiscal year 2014′s first ten months. In July, the CBO estimated the government ran a deficit of $96 billion. During the month, government also increased outlays by 2.9%.

Increased spending on Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act combined with rising interest payments and increased Social Security and Medicare spending to cause the increase.

The worst news of all? This is actually an improvement over last year! In fact, the deficit this year was $146 billion less than it was during the same ten months last year.

It’s obvious that government spending is out of control and that we must hold politicians accountable. Sometimes a small example comes along that reminds us just how grave the situation really is.

Federal transparency site overlooks $619 billion

Well, that’s awkward.

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The GAO recently audited USASpending.gov, finding that the site overlooked “at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs.”

What’s worse,

the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on USASpending.gov is “fully consistent with agencies’ records,” according to the report.

We can’t think of a clearer example of how broken government spending is — or a more compelling reason to demand so much more from our politicians.


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