WOW: Feds admits to misspending an astounding amount of taxpayer money since 2004

Incompetence squared.

Today’s a day that ends in y, so we’re learning about yet another egregious example of government waste. This time, it’s the federal government, which, according to a new OpenTheBooks investigation, has given out $2.9 trillion (adjusted for inflation) in “improper payments” since 2004.

What does that mean? Well, the feds define an “improper payment” as “payments made by the government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason.” Basically, they send our cash to the wrong place or in the incorrect amount. And, as it turns out, this is an incredibly common phenomenon. (Because of course it is).

OpenTheBooks reports that in 2022, the feds made $247 billion in improper payments, aka $20.5 billion per month or $675 million per day. That’s a truly astounding amount of our taxpayer money that could’ve been put to use—or, better yet, left in our pockets to begin with.

The ramifications here are pretty profound.

Not only does the federal government constantly misallocate our tax dollars to wasteful, fraud-rife, and inefficient programs. But once it sets its mind to spend our money a certain way, it then often fails to actually do that and sends it to the wrong place or in the wrong amounts.

That’s incompetence squared.

“Federal bureaucrats must find ways to provide more adequate spending controls and stem this enormous tide of improper payments,” OpenTheBooks’s Adam Andrzejewski concluded. “Otherwise, government waste of this magnitude will only continue eroding the public trust. Thanks to our team of auditors, taxpayers can research the goofs made in their names and with their dollars. Then they can decide for themselves where spending should grow, and where it should be cut.”

On the surface, these revelations should be surprising. But they’re really not. As the economist Milton Friedman famously explained, government spending is inherently wasteful, because government bureaucrats are ultimately responsible for spending other people’s money on other people. That reality inherently incentives carelessness, not frugality or prudence.

Remember these inconvenient realities about how the federal government works the next time you hear someone promising they can solve a grand problem in our society if we just cough up more tax dollars for the feds to (mis)spend.

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.