Forbes magazine just yesterday became the first major media to blow the lid off of $21 trillion that have gone missing from the US treasury. The entire article is copied below. To give an idea of how much money that is, if you divide the entire US population of around 325 million into $21 trillion, the amount missing is equivalent to $65,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country.
CBS News in 2002 was the first to report on the much smaller amount of $2.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon, as acknowledged by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a report on the Dept. of Defense website. Rumsfeld’s report was later strangely removed from the website, but is still available on the Internet archive.
No other media picked up on this mind-blowing story. What should have been a top headline-grabbing story of highest concern to all Americans was simply dropped. Since then, a few major media have published isolated articles on missing trillions, as summarized on this revealing webpage, yet again, these stories were not given the top headlines they deserved. They thus attracted little notice and were dropped, so the public remained uniformed of this concerning news.
A courageous former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under George H. W. Bush by the name of Catherine Austin Fitts couldn’t believe this vitally important story was being largely ignored by the media. An incredibly sharp economist who once served as managing director of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co, Fitts researched further and has been reporting regularly on the many trillions missing on her highly informative and inspiring website solari.com. The media has conspicuously avoided her detailed work on this.
Michigan State professor of economics Mark Skidmore discovered the excellent work of Fitts several years ago. He couldn’t believe Fitts claim that $6.5 trillion were missing from the US government. Thinking she had mistakenly written trillions instead of billions, he and his graduate students sifted through thousands of US government reports and were astounded to find not only that Fitts was right, but that the amount was even greater that Fitts had thought.
Skidmore eventually worked together with Forbes magazine contributor Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University to compose the below article blowing the lid off this huge cover-up of $21 trillion gone missing from government coffers. Note that once certain officials saw Skidmore exposing this, the government removed many of the incriminating documents from their websites. But he wisely had downloaded all of the documents and has reposted this incriminating information on the website of Fitts on this webpage.
You can help to inform the public of this huge cover-up by spreading this news to all of your friends and colleagues. It’s time for us to join in demanding full transparency on how our tax dollars are used and to expose the major corruption taking place. See the “What you can do” section below the article for more ways you can make a difference. Thanks for caring. Together, we can build a brighter future for us and our children.
Note: Watch Prof. Skidmore discussing this astounding news in this interview.
Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?
By Laurence Kotlikoff
Forbes magazine, Dec 8, 2017
I am co-authoring this column with Mark Skidmore, a Professor of Economics at Michigan State University.
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” ~ Article I, Section 9, Clause 7, The US Constitution
On July 26, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report “Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported”. The report indicates that for fiscal year 2015 the Army failed to provide adequate support for $6.5 trillion in journal voucher adjustments.
According to the GAO’s Comptroller General, “Journal vouchers are summary-level accounting adjustments made when balances between systems cannot be reconciled. Often these journal vouchers are unsupported, meaning they lack supporting documentation to justify the adjustment or are not tied to specific accounting transactions…. For an auditor,journal vouchers are a red flag for transactions not being captured, reported, or summarized correctly.”
(Note, after Mark Skidmore began inquiring about OIG-reported unsubstantiated adjustments, the OIG’s webpage, which documented, albeit in a highly incomplete manner, these unsupported “accounting adjustments,” was mysteriously taken down. Fortunately, Mark copied the July 2016 report and all other relevant OIG-reports in advance and reposted them here. Mark has repeatedly tried to contact Lorin Venable, Assistant Inspector General at the Office of the Inspector General. He has emailed, phoned, and used LinkedIn to ask Ms. Venable about OIG’s disclosure of unsubstantiated adjustments, but she has not responded.)
Given that the entire Army budget in fiscal year 2015 was $120 billion, unsupported adjustments were 54 times the level of spending authorized by Congress. The July 2016 report indicates that unsupported adjustments are the result of the Defense Department’s “failure to correct system deficiencies.” The result, according to the report, is that data used to prepare the year-end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail.
The report indicates that just 170 transactions accounted for $2.1 trillion in year-end unsupported adjustments. No information is given about these 170 transactions. In addition many thousands of transactions with unsubstantiated adjustments were, according to the report, removed by the Army. There is no explanation concerning why they were removed nor their magnitude.
The July 2016 report states, “In addition, DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) Indianapolis personnel did not document or support why DDRS (The Defense Department Reporting System) removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million feeder file records during the Third Quarter.”
An appendix to the July 2016 report shows $2 trillion in changes to the Army General Fund balance sheet due to unsupported adjustments. On the asset side, there is $794 billion increase in the Army’s Fund Balance with the U.S. Treasury. There is also an increase of $929 billion in the Army’s Accounts Payable.
This information raises additional major questions. First, what is the source of the additional $794 billion in the Army’s Fund Balance? This adjustment represents more than six times appropriated spending. Second, do these transfers represent a flow of funds to the Army beyond those authorized by Congress? Third, were these funds authorized and if so when and by whom? Fourth, what is the source of these funds? Finally, the $929 billion in Accounts Payable appears to represent an amount owed for items or services purchased on credit. What entities have received or will receive payment?
When Judge Orlinda Naranjo refused to even set a Hearing for Kelly Jones’ Emergency Temporary Restraining Order, Kelly said she wouldn’t leave the Courthouse until her Motion was set.
The Emergency TRO was filed the same week that Kelly’s ex, Alex Jones, was taken off YouTube and Facebook (blocked) for Hate Speech and Child Endangerment.
When an Emergency Ex Parte TRO is filed, it is the Judge’s duty to hear it immediately.
Kelly stayed in her car overnight with her friend, Dawn Balli, who lost her daughter in Naranjo’s Court.
The next morning, when Kelly went to the Administrative Court to get the Hearing set, she found herself surrounded by five Sheriff’s Deputies.
One grabbed her phone.
Kelly has experienced years of bias, intimidation and injustice in the Travis County Court system.
Please watch and share this far and wide. Kelly needs people to understand and get outraged about Court corruption in Travis County, so that she will finally get her children the protection they need and deserve from abuse and endangerment while in the possession of Alex Jones.
We all know that nursing homes are the gulags and poor houses for the elderly. The courts force them there. Every resident in a nursing home cries out to go home or go to a home like setting. Their civil and human rights are ignored because they are over 70, over 80 or whatever. They are in wheel chairs. They are drugged with chemical restraints. No one cares. Unless they have insurance or medicare money, then they are traded like chips at a casino for profit.
After my numerous faxes to the White House about the death and destruction of the elderly, what happens? Read on.
The Trump administration has told nursing homes that they can feel free to abuse or neglect the elderly, even to the point of death, and see almost no repercussions for it.
A nursing home can abuse an elderly resident to the point of death and not be subject to a fine, thanks to the Trump administration.
Reacting to the demands of lobbyists, the Trump administration has struck down several regulations that have governed the nursing home industry. The New York Times reports that this now means several common citations that used to result in fines will either see reduced penalties or no penalties at all.
These citations have included “failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.” Americans can now know that their grandparents, parents, or great-grandparents can be neglected and abused without the government exercising oversight.
Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, told the Times, “They’ve pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak.”
The fines, designed to prod nursing homes into treating elderly Americans with more care, respect, and dignity, were put in place by President Barack Obama and sought to make the institutions answerable to standards put together by Medicare.
Between 2013 and this year, 6,500 nursing homes — 4 out of every 10 — have been cited for serious violations. Under the Obama policies, two-thirds of those homes were fined.
In his eagerness to undo as many regulations as possible, regardless of consequence, Donald Trump has thrown those policies out the window after the lobbyists for companies that operate the homes got the ear of his administration. A memo from the Trump administration referred to these fines as penalizing a “one-time mistake.” Even if that “one-time mistake” killed someone’s grandmother.
The Times notes one nursing home where the failure to monitor and treat a patient’s wound led to a pain-medication pump slipping through a ruptured suture, protruding from her abdomen. Under the Obama rules, the nursing home at fault — Lincoln Manor in Illinois — was fined $282,954. Under Trump, the home where a person died because of neglect would be fined less than $21,000.
This sets up a perverse incentive system that tells nursing homes they can abuse and neglect human beings up to and including death and still be exempt from many, if not all, fines.
Callous treatment of the most vulnerable in society is abhorrent and cruel. But it’s just another day with Trump.
From the New York Times Article:
The Trump administration is scaling back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury, part of a broader relaxation of regulations under the president.
The shift in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols was requested by the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association, the industry’s main trade group, has complained that under President Barack Obama, federal inspectors focused excessively on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.
“It is critical that we have relief,” Mark Parkinson, the group’s president, wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump in December 2016.
Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes — four of every 10 — have been cited at least once for a serious violation, federal records show. Medicare has fined two-thirds of those homes. Common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.
The new guidelines discourage regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident’s death. The guidelines will also probably result in lower fines for many facilities.
The change in policy aligns with Mr. Trump’s promise to reduce bureaucracy, regulation and government intervention in business.
Dr. Kate Goodrich, director of clinical standards and quality at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement that unnecessary regulation was the main concern that health care providers raised with officials.
“Rather than spending quality time with their patients, the providers are spending time complying with regulations that get in the way of caring for their patients and doesn’t increase the quality of care they provide,” Dr. Goodrich said.
But advocates for nursing-home residents say the revised penalties are weakening a valuable patient-safety tool.
“They’ve pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak,” said Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
Medicare has different ways of applying penalties. It can impose a specific fine for a particular violation. It can assess a fine for each day that a nursing home was in violation. Or it can deny payments for new admissions.
The average fine in recent years has been $33,453, but 531 nursing homes amassed combined federal fines above $100,000, records show. In 2016, Congress increased the fines to factor in several years of inflation that had not been accounted for previously.
The new rules have been instituted gradually throughout the year.
In October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services discouraged its regional offices from levying fines, even in the most serious health violations, if the error was a “one-time mistake.” The centers said that intentional disregard for residents’ health and safety or systemic errors should still merit fines.
A July memo from the centers discouraged the directors of state agencies that survey nursing homes from issuing daily fines for violations that began before an inspection, favoring one-time fines instead. Daily fines remain the recommended approach for major violations discovered during an inspection.
David Gifford, the American Health Care Association’s senior vice president for quality, said daily fines were intended to prompt quick remedies but were pointless when applied to past errors that had already been fixed by the time inspectors discovered them.
“What was happening is you were seeing massive fines accumulating because they were applying them on a per-day basis retrospectively,” Mr. Gifford said.
But the change means that some nursing homes could be sheltered from fines above the maximum per-instance fine of $20,965 even for egregious mistakes.
In September 2016, for instance, health inspectors faulted Lincoln Manor, a nursing home in Decatur, Ill., for failing to monitor and treat the wound of a patient whose implanted pain-medication pump gradually slipped over eight days through a ruptured suture and protruded from her abdomen. The patient died.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined Lincoln Manor $282,954, including $10,091 a day for 28 days, from the time the nursing home noticed the problem with the wound until supervisors had retrained nurses to avoid similar errors. An administrative law judge called the penalties “quite modest” given the “appalling” care.
The fines were issued before the new guidelines took effect; if the agency had issued a one-time fine, the maximum would have been less than $21,000.
Lincoln Manor closed in September. Its owner could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer did not respond to an interview request.
Advocates for nursing home residents say that relaxing penalties threatens to undo progress at deterring wrongdoing. Janet Wells, a consultant for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said the changes come as “some egregious violations and injuries to residents are being penalized — finally — at a level that gets the industry’s attention and isn’t just the cost of doing business.”
In November, the Trump administration exempted nursing homes that violate eight new safety rules from penalties for 18 months. Homes must still follow the rules, which are intended, among other things, to reduce the overuse of psychotropic drugs and to ensure that every home has adequate resources to assist residents with major psychological problems.
In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rescinded another Obama administration action that banned nursing homes from pre-emptively requiring residents to submit to arbitration to settle disputes rather than going to court.
“We publish nearly 11,000 pages of regulation every year,” the agency’s administrator, Seema Verma, said in a speech in October. That paperwork is “taking doctors away from what matters most: patients.”
Janine Finck-Boyle, director of health regulations and policy at LeadingAge, a group of nonprofit nursing homes and other entities that care for older people, said the group’s members had been struggling to cope with regulations.
“If you’re a 50-bed rural facility out West or in the Dakotas,” she said, “you don’t have the resources to get everything done from A to Z.”
Data revealed 3,195 Florida teachers and administrators earned $100,000+ incomes, costing taxpayers nearly $400 million last year.
- Former Palm Beach County SD Superintendent Robert Avossa received the largest superintendent paycheck ($365,042). In February 2018, he resigned. The Palm Beach County School Board employed 359 six-figure educators for $41 million in 2017.
- Miami-Dade SD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was the second-highest-paid educator. In 2017, he pulled down $343,386. The Miami-Dade School Board paid $1.5 billion in total payroll during 2017 with 738 employees earning six-figures.
- Public school employees across the state raked in six-figure paychecks including Duval County Superintendent Nikolai Vitti ($302,394); Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins ($281,037); Pinellas County Superintendent Michael Grego ($273,509); Collier County Superintendent Kamela Patton ($230,640); Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeffrey Eakins ($225,000); Lee County School District Attorney Keith Martin ($198,281); and Sarasota County Assistant Superintendent Scott Lempe ($178,776).
Public College and University Employees
Public colleges and universities in Florida paid 13,305 six and seven-figure salaries in 2017, costing taxpayers $2.5 billion. These salaries flowed to coaches, presidents, professors, and more.
Division I colleges and universities awarded huge salaries to athletic coaches. Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) head football coach Lane Kiffin received $436,781. Even the FAU former Head Football Coach Charlie Partridge made $294,784 in 2017. Florida International University Head Football Coach Paul “Butch” Davis took home $737,931. While new Florida State University (FSU) Football Coach Willie Taggart will receive $5 million per year and UF Football Coach Dan Mullen makes $6 million per year, taxpayers fund just a small fraction of these salaries.
Highly compensated university presidents included John Hitt, University of Central Florida president, made $898,092. Former President of Florida A&M Elmira Mangum made $638,907 in 2017. Randy Avent, president and founder of Florida Polytechnic, received $478,850. Wilson Bradshaw of Florida Gulf Coast earned $425,823 – although he retired on June 30, 2017 – while his successor, Mike Martin, brought home $392,718.
Even junior colleges doled out huge paychecks. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart, Valencia Community College president, pulled in $386,576. Kenneth Atwater, president of Hillsborough Community College, made $324,617 and James Murdaugh, president of Tallahassee Community College, received $304,834.
Other highly-compensated university employees included University of South Florida Vice President of Alumni Relations and foundation CEO Joel Momberg ($897,279); Florida Atlantic University Medical Science Professor John Newcomer ($560,638); University of North Florida Dean Mark Tumeo ($550,841); and University of West Florida Provost George Ellenberg ($423,545).
Even county employees got in on the largess. For example, the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners pays 5,476 employees more than $100,000 each – that’s twice as many six-figure employees as the Florida state government. Additionally, Palm Beach County’s Board of Commissioners paid out 1,214 six-figure salaries.
- County workers received huge compensation including Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill ($273,600); Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard ($261,478); Volusia County Manager James Dinneen ($259,954); Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker ($220,300); and Osceola County Manager Don Fisher ($215,830).
- Law-enforcement officers including sheriffs, highway patrolmen and policemen pulled in large salaries. Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Department Chief Operating Officer George Forman made brought home $227,093. At the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, 1,516 employees made six-figure salaries, including Sheriff Scott Israel, who made $189,070.
- Even solid waste managers make a lot, including Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority Executive Director Mark Hammond ($205,019); Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer System Deputy Director L.D. Yoder earned $208,593; and Hillsborough County Solid Waste Services Director Kimberly Byer ($143,239).
Not even resignations and retirements can stop some public employees from receiving huge payouts. Consider two examples:
Bruce Pelly, Palm Beach County’s airport director, pulled in $236,768 in 2017 on top of at least $70,968 in annual retirement checks. Pelly worked for more than 20 years before “retiring” in 2010 to collect a $304,000 lump sum payout – plus his monthly annuity checks. Just 30 days later, he was rehired in the exact same position.
Richard Anderson retired from his position as Apopka City Manager in 2014 with $510,296 in final-year compensation on top of two pensions he was able to collect. Then, the city rehired him as a lobbyist with a two-year contract for another $528,000.
Florida was ranked the number one fiscally responsible state in 2017. However, with public higher education employees bringing home six and seven figures, numerous small-time municipal leaders earning more annually than state governor, and a history of high earners accepting pensions and active paychecks at the same time, perhaps its practices are worth reevaluating.
Note: Only two of Florida’s 477 pay and pension systems were reviewed for this column: Florida People First Personnel Information System and Florida State Management Services Retirement System. All data is made available under Florida transparency laws. Together, these two systems have nearly 800,000 public employees and are estimated to cover two of every three FL public employees.
Furthermore, we reached out to many of the government entities mentioned in the piece and none have responded with comments. Anyone mentioned in the piece wanting to add context or comment should contact the author Adam Andrzejewski.