Teamsters Pension Collected $127 Million For 3,500 Dead People
November 20, 2023
About $127 million in federal dollars was given to a Teamsters pension plan for almost 3,500 dead people who remained on the rolls, according to a new oversight report.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation insures the pension benefits of 33 million workers and retirees in private sector defined benefit pension plans. It gave the Teamsters pension, Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Plan, $35.8 billion in Special Financial Assistance (SFA) in December 2022, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.
While Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation funds its programs with premiums paid by covered plans, the SFA program is funded by taxpayer dollars.
The federal funds are given to pension plans in financial distress, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
But in this case, the pension plan had 3,479 deceased participants on its application, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation won’t try to recover the funds, they told The New York Post.
The Teamsters plan was projected to run out of money in 2025 and is the largest plan expected to receive SFA. The SFA program helps multiemployer plans pay full benefits to all plan participants for 30 years, until 2051.
“While the Corporation’s review process required Central States to provide a list of all plan participants and proof of a search for deceased participants (death audit), the Corporation did not cross-check the information against the Social Security Administration’s Full Death Master File — the source recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office for reducing improper payments to deceased people,” the OIG report found. “Based on our identification of deceased participants, Central States calculated the value attributed to deceased participants in the SFA application at approximately $127 million.”
Since then, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has taken steps to reduce risk, including updating application instructions to include detailed guidance on how deceased participants should be handled by plans, the report stated.
If the federal government is going to bail out private pension funds, it should have better checks in place to ensure taxpayers aren’t funding payments to dead people.
Cutting Food Stamp Fraud, Waste Could Save $1 Billion Monthly
November 21, 2023
Food stamp spending has doubled from $60 billion in 2019 to $120 billion in 2022, and part of that is due to people who are ineligible for the program receiving benefits anyway, The New York Post reported.
Since 2019, there were more than 65,000 substantial lottery winners who continued collecting food stamps, even despite being over the federal income threshold for the program.
Looking at data from 13 states, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, commonly known as food stamps, took home substantial lottery winnings ranging from $4,250 to $2 million, all of which put the winner above federal asset threshold to qualify for the government assistance program.
“It shocks the conscious and defies belief,” Hayden Dublois, data and analytics director at FGA, told Fox News Digital. “And this is data from only 13 states. The 50-state number is likely titanic. The scale of the problem is staggering — even by government standards.”
It’s fraud like that that has contributed to the doubling of food stamp costs between 2019 and 2022, and is why Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a bill called The Snap Back Inaccurate SNAP Payments Act, to reduce spending by nearly $1 billion a month by “requiring all errors, regardless of the amount, to be counted and directing state governments to stop giving out ineligible benefits or they will have to eat some of the costs,” Fox News reported.
“Families across the country are going hungry while bureaucrats are jumping the line to gobble up SNAP dollars, either as a meal ticket to beef up state budgets or a self-serve buffet of benefits for themselves or others who do not qualify,” Ernst said in September. “It’s time for states at fault to pay the piper and eat the costs of their taxpayer waste. Instead of overserving bureaucrats, let’s end the waste and set a place at the table for hungry families.”
Up To $6 Million For U.S. Pavilion At 2025 World Expo in Osaka, Japan
November 22, 2023
The State Department is seeking an organization to help America set up and run its pavilion at the 2025 Osaka, Japan Expo — for $6 million.
Referred to as “a world-class public diplomacy opportunity to showcase U.S. leadership in innovation for the future,” the six-month showcase between April and October 2025 will “bring the world together in a grand and common project to find solutions to a fundamental challenge facing humanity.”
The State Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs will award the grants to organizations that will “support U.S. participation in the 2025 Osaka, Japan Expo.”
The Japanese government describes the event as a “participatory, experiential, solutions-oriented exposition based on the concept of a “People's Living Lab,” where experiences provide a starting point for people to live their lives more fully, enjoyably and healthily.”
“We want this exhibition to become a springboard for reaffirming the preciousness of life, giving people a chance to live healthier lives and achieve each of their dreams. This legacy will remain in the heart and memories of each participant. We sincerely hope to share an unforgettable experience that will move and inspire them.”
While that sounds lovely, the United States is a member of numerous world organizations wherein public diplomacy, finding solutions to global issues, leadership, innovation — and everything else on the menu at the expo — is on the plate.
As a member of the United Nations, World Health Organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Trade Organization and more — not to mention the billions in foreign aid spread all over the globe — the U.S. has its hand in diplomatic relations everywhere its representatives go.
An expo with the theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives” isn’t going to change any country’s view of the U.S.
Throwback Thursday: Quasi-Federal Agency Spends On Study To Give Itself A Raise
November 23, 2023
In 1982, the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a quasi-government entity, spent more than $44,000 — over $140,000 in 2023 dollars — to study its salary structure and recommend raising pay as high as $190,000.
For this wasteful spending, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the corporation a Golden Fleece Award. He gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.
The Synthetic Fuels Corporation was a U.S. government-funded corporation established in 1980 by the Energy Security Act and disbanded six years later.
It was created to finance the development of commercial synthetic fuel manufacturing plants, such as coal gasification, to produce alternatives to imported fossil fuels.
The seven-member board of directors received billions in initial funding for joint ventures with primarily oil and gas companies to build plants and help finance coal mines or transportation facilities.
Congress authorized over 12 years funding of $88 billion, plus another $35 million in annual administrative expenses, with up to 300 full-time employees.
The $44,000 study, delivered in December 1981 recommended pay increases up to 173 percent — from a pay of $69,630 to $190,358 for the chairman, and other raises up to 137 percent for other senior positions.
“The president must approve any salaries over $69,630, the pay of a cabinet officer,” Proxmire said at the time. “The corporation’s board of directors has already decided to recommend that two positions be paid more than this.”
The senator recommended that the corporation be abolished, and four years later it was. But not before it spent $10 million to lease 67,321 square feet of office space on Washington D.C.’s K Street.
Texas School District Tried To Take Senior’s Home For Parking
November 24, 2023
In the name of building a parking lot, the Aldine Independent School District in Harris County, Texas tried to intimidate a 79-year-old man into selling his home, which his family has owned since 1916.
The school district is spending $50 million to redevelop its high school football stadium, which has parking lots on three sides of the one-acre property where Travis Upchurch’s house sits, Reason Magazine reported. The district has been trying to acquire Upchurch’s property to expand the parking.
When Upchurch indicated that he didn’t want to sell his property, the school district hired a third party to send a letter that the district would seize the property using eminent domain if he didn’t agree to a voluntary sale.
Tara Upchurch, Travis’ daughter, said the idea of forcing her father to relocate was terrifying. The family made repeated efforts to work out a deal with the district that would allow the senior citizen to live out his remaining years in the home, but the district seemed set on taking the property as soon as possible, Reason reported.
Then, all of a sudden, the district changed course, saying the property wasn't necessary for the stadium project and that the district had been concerned about the liability issues of having someone live so close to its construction projects.
Finally, the school board voted to stop efforts to acquire the property.
While Tara Upchurch says that she's grateful, she doesn’t trust that the school district won’t take up the eminent domain efforts again after the election.
“We don't put anything past Aldine right now. We are nervous,” she told Reason.
Eminent domain shouldn’t be used to bully old men into leaving their house so that a high school stadium could have a larger parking lot.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.