A long day yesterday finds yr. obdt. back in northern Indiana today, for a three-week stint. The traveling life is many things, but settled and boring aren’t among them.
I’ve always kind of liked San Francisco Chronicle columnist Deb Saunders, all the more so after a few years ago when I actually had an informative and pleasant email exchange with her on the topic of schools. Today we have this from her Bay Area keyboard: Government Can’t Say No. Excerpt:
The Social Security Disability Insurance program is in big trouble. In 2016, the program’s trust fund is expected to run out of money. When that happens, there will be “large across-the-board cuts for all beneficiaries,” warn James Lankford, the Republican chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees entitlements, and Jackie Speier, the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat. Those cuts will be painful for the “truly disabled,” whom the system originally was designed to serve.
Washington has a choice to make: provide for the truly disabled or the newly disabled.
Let’s be honest; Social Security as a whole is in big, deep, no-shit trouble, and nobody in Washington has the stones to try to fix it. But the disability program has been a problem for years due to massive overreach. And here’s the real money quote, in which Ms. Saunders nails the problem:
There’s such a huge backlog that the SSA has yet to review cases approved by infamous “red flag” judges Charles Bridges and David Daugherty. According to their regional chief, Bridges awarded benefits to nearly all the 2,000 claimants who came before him each year. Daugherty approved 99.7 percent of cases before him, to the benefit of 8,413 individuals. Estimated lifetime cost: $2.5 billion.
…The professor thinks the SSA should get rid of all 1,400 administrative law judges. “They are counterproductive. They introduce more errors than they eliminate,” Pierce told me. “They have absolutely no relevant training, no expertise, and they’re overruling people who have relevant training and expertise.” What’s more, he wrote for Cato in 2011, the $2 billion freed up by their removal could be used to “hire a large number of talented people to manage” important programs.
This is the continuing problem with bureaucracy in general; there is little consequence for the lazy and incompetent. One sees it in microcosm in the issue of handicapped parking permits; every community, it seems, has at least one physician who will sign off on such a permit for anyone who asks, on any pretext – sore feet, an aching back – and that causes problems for the truly disabled. So it is here, with the “red flag” SSDI judges referred to in this article.
But there’s one big difference.
These damned red flag judges, through either deliberate malfeasance, laziness or stupidity, are costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars.
They shouldn’t just be cashiered. They should be jailed.