The new audit of the Massachusetts welfare system gets very – say it with me – different treatment in the local dailies today.
Boston Globe Page One:
Massachusetts gave millions of dollars in questionable public assis tance to people who were listed as dead, used multiple Social Security numbers to boost their payments, or apparently sold their benefit cards for cash over the past few years, according to a state audit released Tuesday.
The report by State Auditor Suzanne Bump is the latest study finding that the state did not do nearly enough to ensure that welfare benefits went only to qualified recipients. The head of the agency that administers the aid quit in January after another scathing report from the inspector general.
Bump’s audit found that 1,160 recipients were either dead or used a deceased person’s Social Security number, costing $2.4 million between July 2010 and April 2012.
It also flagged another $15.6 million in suspicious transactions from electronic benefit cards between 2010 and 2012, including cards that were used as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, or the US Virgin Islands, suggesting the recipients either no longer lived in Massachusetts or had extra cash for travel.
Other fun facts to know and tell:
• The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance “provides aid to roughly one in seven people in the state”
• That’s about 885,000 people
• Who receive $1.7 billion a year
• And drive the Boston Herald to distraction
Not surprisingly, Page One of today’s feisty local tabloid is sharp, if a bit hyperventilating:
Inside, the gimme gals and guys get the usual double-barreled treatment, complete with the told-you-so front pages of yore:
And Howie Carr mails in the usual about the “Department of Terrorist Assistance,” although it’s probably safe to say Tamerlan Tsarnaev is not among the 1164 ghost riders.
Anyway, just for the record, here’s the Herald’s bottom line (note the “possible,” “suggesting,” and etc.):
Listen – the hardworking staff hates paying taxes as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy isn’t Mitt Romney. And there’s no question the DTA has problems that should be fixed. But isn’t this being blown out of proportion a bit?
1164 out of 885,000?
$18 million out of $1.7 billion?
Really, there’s gotta be something better the Herald could hyperventilate about.
Then again, it wouldn’t sell as many papers, would it?
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My favorite is the “round number transactions”, which statistically should be about 1%. Are they? I couldn’t tell from the audit.
$1.52 million out of $1.7 billion? Less than 1%, yeah?
I was struck by the low-ish amount here, too. Various candidates always claim that you can’t raise taxes until you get the “waste, fraud and abuse” out of the system. This is never quantified.
But now, some of it is, and that’s a good thing.
Just posted today’s bakeoff, Steve. More of the same.
On 5/30/13 9:06 AM, “It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town”