WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), the Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, yesterday delivered his weekly “Waste of the Week” speech and highlighted how the federal government can achieve $4.8 billion in savings over the next 10 years by denying retirement and disability benefits to criminals who are avoiding felony arrest.
“Mr. President, it is hard to believe that for the last six months I’ve been coming down to the Senate floor to discuss examples of waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government. Today, I am here to present my 17th Waste of the Week. I’ve highlighted many examples—from the weighty to the absurd—of ways we can save taxpayer dollars.
“Today, we turn to a rather serious topic regarding the receipt of taxpayer dollars by criminals who are avoiding felony arrest.
“Those wanted for committing a felony should not be receiving benefits at taxpayers’ expense.
“The Social Security Act currently prohibits those fleeing justice from receiving Social Security and other federal benefits. Congress first addressed this issue in 1996, when it banned fugitive felons from receiving Social Security benefits, and then expanded this prohibition in 2004 to also apply to Social Security Disability Insurance and World War II benefits.
“Unfortunately, over time, a series of court challenges has weakened the effects of this law due to a lack of clarity in the original language.
“To address this problem, this week I introduced legislation to amend the Social Security Act to clearly prohibit fugitive felons from receiving Social Security Retirement and Disability benefits. My bill would clarify the law and return the implementation of this policy to its original intent.
“Let me be clear – the government should not be providing benefits to those avoiding prosecution, custody or confinement for a crime, or attempt to commit a crime, that is considered a felony.
“Now remember, we’re not talking about individuals who get speeding tickets or make a mistake on their taxes. This legislation applies only to those with an arrest order for felony charges. The crime must be of enough serious magnitude to carry with it a minimum term of one or more years in prison.
“Furthermore, the bill retains the ability of the Social Security Agency to continue or restore benefits if the individual can show good cause, such as they were exonerated of the crime or the victim of identity theft.
“According to the Congressional Budget Office, this common-sense fix could save taxpayers $4.8 billion over the next 10 years alone.
“American taxpayers should not pay for disability and retirement benefits for those avoiding prosecution. This situation should be corrected immediately.
“So this week, I will add another $4.8 billion to our taxpayer savings gauge. As you can see, we are very near our goal of identifying $100 billion. I look forward to joining you next week.”