Friday, June 5, 2015

June, 2015, Part 5, Political Class Insanity: The IRS Is Still A Joke, The TSA Is Still A Joke, The Feds' Cash Management Is Still A Joke

It is the start of another month which means it is time to review the latest political class insanity that the American political class has dropped on our heads in the past month or so. We do this review every month in order to continually prove our view that we are currently being served by the worst set of politicians in the history of our country. Their inane quotes, their failed programs and laws, their wasteful spending, their ineptness, and continued focus on their own careers and self enrichment at the expense of taxpayers is constant and disgraceful.

This month could be one of the worst ever, given the backlog that needs to be discussed. The insanity will cover a full range of areas where today’s politicians continue to disappoint and fail us. As always, the news ways they find to screw up is never ending and always creative.

1) We have previously shown that the Defense Department is really good at wasting taxpayer wealth. Numerous times we have reported on how the U.S. Navy built two warships almost to completion at a cost of $300 million and then spent another $10 million to dismantle and scrap them before they were ever used. We reported earlier this week on how the construction of the latest U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is already $300 million over budget and it is not completed yet.

But according to a recent Politico article, the Defense Department can waste money in much smaller quantities but in a no less despicable manner:
  • According to a Defense Department audit analysis: “A Defense Department audit has found that a number of Pentagon employees used their government credit cards to gamble and pay for ‘adult entertainment’ — findings that are expected to lead department officials to issue stern new warnings.” 
  • That’s right, taxpayer money being used for gambling across the country, specifically Las Vegas and Atlantic City, along with it being used for hookers and “escorts.”
  • The wasteful spending was done by both military personnel and civilians working with the Pentagon.
  • Besides just plain wasting taxpayer money, the activities were also used to cover up gambling and escort service usage from spouses: “A Pentagon official briefed on some of the findings stressed that the federal government did not necessarily pay the charges; holders of the cards pay their own bills and then submit receipts to be reimbursed for expenses related to their government business. The official said that the employees may have used the government cards for gambling and escort services in order to shield the charges from spouses.”
  • The misuse and abuse of taxpayer money continued over the past three years despite a law that was passed in 2012 that was supposed to eliminate this type of waste.
  • Unfortunately, the abuse is not restricted to the defense Department since Politico also reported that Federal employees in other government entities, including Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, and Bureau Of Land Management, also abused their government credit cards.
  • The inspector general in the Department of Labor found that their employees in the Job Corps program charged nearly $100,000 to the government for haircuts, clothing, and personal cell phone service. 
  • In the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard employees charged more than $12,000 at a single California coffee shop on their government issued credit cards.
  • Three employees were fired and two resigned last year at the Bureau of Land Management after they charged a whopping $800,000 worth of gift cards on their government credit cards.
A few observations here:
  • First, are you kidding me? Three years after Congress passed a law cracking down on this type of taxpayer abuse it is still going on at such mind boggling levels and across so many Federal entities?
  • Why have these employees just been allowed to resign? They should have been prosecuted for breaking the law, made to pay back the money they abused, possibly go to jail, and forfeit any government pension or other benefits they may have been entitled to if they had not broken the law.
  • In addition, their bosses, who allowed this fraud to go on, should be at least fired.
Only in Washington and government jobs are there no consequences for breaking the law.

2) I would assume most of our readers fly on a domestic U.S. airplane flight at least once in a while. In which case, we are always witnessed to what looks like extensive security screening by Federal employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) when we check in at the airport. Makes you feel kinda safe, seeing all of those Federal employees patting down 85 year old grandmothers and five year old kids to make sure they are not carrying any weapons onto your flight.

Well, think again. According to a recent ABC News scoop, it appears that the TSA failed to identify and stop undercover government agents from smuggling fake weapons through TSA screening stations an amazing 67 out of 70 times. Another way of saying the same thing is that the TSA was successful in their jobs 3 times out of 70, a miserable success rate of just over 4%.

Ask yourself: if you were successful in your job 4% of the time, how long would you have that job? Not very long I bet. The TSA budget is easily billions of dollars a year and they cannot do better than 4%? Pathetic.

But typical for government operations and employees. Many countries around the world and some airports in the U.Sl. use private company screeners for the TSA job at their airports. History shows that private contractors do a much better job than TSA screeners when it comes to airport security. Of course, at a 4% success rate, it is not too hard to do a much better job than TSA screeners. 

It is obvious what needs to be done: we need to adapt the more effective ways of other countries and hire private contractors to do the job the TSA has failed at miserably for the past fourteen years. It is so obvious you can be sure that Washington politicians will never come up with this simple solution.

3) Earlier in this political class insanity series this month we discussed the situation where likely Russian hackers broke into IRS computer files and stole the vital personal information of about 100,000 taxpayers, making those taxpayers much more susceptible to identity theft. The IRS commissioner then had the nerve to claim that the IRS did not have a security breach...despite the fact that hackers stole private information of 100,000 Americans.

Well, apparently the IRS commissioner also has another security breach and it is not in far away Russia, it was in an IRS office in St.Louis:
  • An IRS employee in that office pled guilty recently to charges of tax fraud.
  • Apparently, employee Demetria Brown stole $326,000 from the IRS when she used stolen taxpayer personal information to create fake tax returns, file them, and have the IRS tax refunds sent six different bank accounts in five different states.
  • She carried out this embezzlement as an IRS employee for four years, from 2008 to 2011.
  • She now faces up to 42 years in prison and $75,000 in fines according to news reports. Why she does not face fines at least equal to what she stole from the IRS and American taxpayers is unknown.
I wonder if the IRS commissioner would consider this a security breach or just an IRS employee doing her job?

4) Let’s finish up today’s insanity with another kick in the stomach of the IRS while they are down. According to a recent article by Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times: 
  • A new audit of the IRS found that the IRS paid out at least $2.1 billion in bogus refunds in 2012 according to a new audit report.
  • In addition, the IRS somehow found a way to pay out refunds on 600 tax refunds that were filed from the same address in….Kilkennny, Ireland.
  • Let me repeat the previous example of insanity and ineptness: the IRS sent refund checks containing U.S. taxpayer money 600 times to the same address in Ireland.
  • In another piece of ineptness, the IRS paid refunds on 133 different tax returns that all had the exact same bank account number.
  • Just in 2012 alone that bank account was sent an amazing $800,000 form the IRS.
  • In a major understatement, the IRS inspector general stated: “Identity theft continues to be a serious and evolving issue.” Ya think???
I have a few questions for the IRS commissioner:
  • Is it too much trouble to have a little bit of computer code that says once you have sent a few dozen tax refunds to the same address in Ireland that maybe you do a little investigating?
  • Is it too much trouble to have a little bit of computer code that says once you have sent a few dozen tax refunds to the same bank account that maybe you do a little investigating?
  • Is it too much trouble to have a little bit of computer code that warns long before you send $800,000 to the same bank account?
Still hard to believe that the IRS commissioner does not think he has a security breach when people in Ireland are siphoning off thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars.

That will do it for today’s insanity. We saw today that the IRS is still a joke, the TSA is still a joke, and the Federal government’s cash management is still a joke. Which makes every Washington politicians still a joke also.

More insanity tomorrow.

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