Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy's (D-8th District) legislation to cut government spending became the law of the land Thursday morning. Having introduced the bill back in 2007, the Congressman was on hand at the White House as President Obama signed his bipartisan bill, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (S. 1508). The bill enacts stricter standards among federal agencies to identify improper payments and recover taxpayer dollars that were misspent. By holding government agencies accountable, the new law will help eliminate the $98 billion in wasteful government spending each year. These improper payments include money misspent due to fraud or a lack of financial oversight within the agency.
"The best way to prevent wasteful spending is to stop it from happening in the first place," said Murphy. "This bipartisan law holds the federal government to the same standard of fiscal responsibility as Pennsylvania families hold themselves."
Every day, he explained, the federal government overpays for goods or services. In the case of fraud, the government may pay for something it never receives. If a family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania was double billed for their car payments or paid for groceries they never actually got, they would quickly realize the error and make sure to get their money back. Rep. Murphy's law, which he's fought for years to make a reality, ensures that federal agencies do more to stop those erroneous payments from going out in the first place, saving taxpayers billions that would otherwise be lost.
Murphy highlighted several examples illustrating the need for the new law. In 2003, a New York dentist billed Medicaid for 991 procedures - in a single day. And in the months after Katrina, FEMA issued millions of dollars worth of housing vouchers. The only problem was that some of the vouchers were going to people who were in jail. It turned out that people were using the names and Social Security numbers of people who were incarcerated to get these vouchers. Under the new law, programs such as these are subject to tighter oversight rules and stricter auditing standards, and the agencies themselves are held accountable for catching these kinds of mistakes before the money goes out the door.
Murphy collaborated on the legislation with Members of both parties, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Carper (D-DE), along with Murphy's GOP co-sponsor in the House, California Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-50th District).
The law is endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste, who stated in their letter of support that the Congressman's "pro-taxpayer" law fulfills the "basic expectation of taxpayers" that their hard-earned dollars "go toward their intended purposes and not to inappropriate uses."