Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, Indiana prison inmate Ryan Greminger collected unemployment benefits during his 2-year sentence in the county jail for a drug crime. He collected $14,000 of taxpayer money. He was in jail, and the government continued to pay him anyway.
Only in America would we pay people in jail because they are unemployed. Greminger should not have obtained money from honest American taxpayers, but he did.
Government is becoming incompetent when it comes to paying unemployment benefits. According to CNN, the Federal Government overpaid $14 billion in unemployment benefits just last year. That means 11 percent of all jobless benefits paid out were not supposed to be paid to those individuals. Those overpayments that should have gone to people in need were sent by government to those who didn't deserve any money. You see, not all payments are to honest people who are looking for jobs and are out of work.
Inmate Greminger's case is bad, but there's more.
A convicted killer, murderer, in a California prison was receiving at least $30,000 in unemployment checks. The murderer made sure that his family and his friends cashed his checks while he was locked up. So each month, his family fraudulently cashed his $1,600 check, which they would then deposit in his jail bank account. Guess where it went next, Mr. Speaker? He shared the jail money with some of his low-life prison gang members while he was in the joint.
The Federal Government reportedly sent a man $515,000 in payments over 37 years--37 years, Mr. Speaker--because he was supposedly unemployed. Thirty-seven years of unemployment benefits for anyone is nonsense to me, but who exactly were they sending that money to in this case? A dead person who died 40 years ago. No wonder he wasn't working, Mr. Speaker; he wasn't around.
We count on our government to spend our tax dollars wisely, but it is inefficiently sending money to those not qualified to obtain taxpayer support--prison inmates and dead people.
Fourteen billion dollars is a lot of money in anybody's book. In the private sector, if a business misappropriated $14 billion, the people in charge would be fired or go to jail, but not so with government agencies. These overpayments and wasteful incompetent spending really don't shock or surprise Americans anymore at all. There's so much waste of taxpayer money that we have become accustomed to it, and we actually expect government to waste money--too big, too wasteful, too incompetent, and too inefficient.
But the real problem is not waste, but the size and inefficiency of government. We're moving to a society that is just another European nanny state, where government is bigger, bloated, and controlling. The government says it will provide all our needs if we just turn over more power, authority, and money to government and government agencies.
Mr. Speaker, does anybody ever really get warm fuzzies when we hear about government programs like the post office, FEMA, the IRS, or TSA? I don't think so. Government doesn't do things better; it does things more expensively and wastefully. And government promotes a concept of more dependence on government, not independence.
We in Congress need to realize the obvious--that unlimited, out-of-control government is not the answer to our problems. But until we get a grip on government and move to a constitutional concept of limited government, we should expect and demand more accountability from the people that are in charge of the people's money.
With hard economic times affecting the unemployed, we cannot tolerate wasteful spending by government bureaucracies. With 8.5 percent unemployment nationwide, 11 percent in the Hispanic community, 14 percent in the African American community, 14 percent for returning military from Iraq and Afghanistan, and 50 percent unemployment for recent college graduates, we should demand that when government helps those we as a society say it should help, government does so properly and efficiently and in a dignified way. Otherwise, more dead people will continue to receive taxpayer money that should go to people that are at least alive.
And that's just the way it is.