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GAO Report Shows Federal Incompetence Pays

Here's a whopper from the latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on federal government overspending: $125.4 billion.

That's the biggest single number from the report identifying where the feds should cut costs. And probably more than any other number in the report that $125.4 billion represents government mismanagement on a staggering level.

That number represents "improper payments" on a whole host of government assistance programs from Medicaid to unemployment to Pell Grants.

The GAO defines "improper" as "any payment that should not have been made or that was made in an incorrect amount (including overpayments and underpayments) under statutory, contractual, administrative, or other legally applicable requirements. Reported improper payments also include payments for which insufficient or no documentation was found."

In other words, either knowingly -- or unknowingly -- Americans bilked the federal government for billions of dollars and got away with it.

The problem is, as Thomas Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste points out, Americans were really just taking money from their own pockets.

"That means people who are eligible aren't getting the payments they deserve and the taxpayers are supporting a program that is inefficient," says Schatz.

The biggest chunk of improper payments went to Medicaid and Medicare which made up more than $55 billion last year. And if you're ready to jump all over President Barack Obama and the Democrats, consider an equally staggering statistic from the GAO report: in 2000, when the era of President George W. Bush and the Republicans was about to begin, improper payments totaled $20 billion.

So that number went up 525 percent in ten years.

"The GAO report says the federal government is very good at spending money and they're not very good at keeping track of how the money is being spent," Schatz said. "And they don't really care if they get it back."