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“People who owe old debts to the Social Security Administration are getting a reprieve this tax season,” explains Fox News. “The federal government won’t be seizing their tax refunds.” Before anybody starts celebrating, that requires some clarification.
As we noted, the “debts” in question are highly dubious. Mary Grice, now 58, was four years old in 1960 when her father died and her mother began receiving survivor’s benefits under Social Security. The federal agency was not even sure which member of the Grice family had been overpaid. They grabbed $2,997 from Mary Grice, refunded it, then sent a new bill for the same amount they had refunded. And Social Security is after Jessica Vela for $16,888 that the government claims she owes for overpayments made to her mother in child support benefits when Vela was one year old.
Social Security mouthpiece Pete Spencer told Fox News, “The commissioner is concerned about the public perception about the way we’re running this program.” Social Security bosses were running the program badly, in other words, and didn’t like the adverse publicity. But even though they are not picking off tax returns this year, as Spencer explained, “we are bound by federal law to collect these debts and they don’t go away.” So the same federal agency that paid millions to old Nazis and dead people will deduct the money from future Social Security benefit payments. Of course, it’s all for the children.
Taxpayers might contrast this crackdown with the way the federal government runs up debt, currently in the range of $18 trillion and climbing. If any law requires them to deal responsibly with this fathomless debt, the federal government is not following it. Federal politicians launch expensive, wasteful, and dysfunctional new entitlements such as Obamacare. They fail to trim government and create new federal agencies of dubious utility, such as the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
By the way, Mr. Spencer misspoke when he said “the commissioner” because Carolyn Colvin, Obama’s choice for the post, is only “acting commissioner.” She faces allegations that, on her watch, the agency hid a report on a $300 million computer boondoggle and retaliated against a whistleblower.