While Democrats in the Legislature were busy thinking up ways to add new entitlement programs for the state government, a lone Democrat fought to reform an existing program that was ripe for fraud. The Democrat majority rejected Rep. Jack Pommer's (D-Boulder) attempts at reform of the Old Age Pension program, leaving the issue to be dealt with through a reform bill from Republicans Rep. Kent Lambert (R-CO Springs) and Sen. Al White (R-Hayden).
Even that was too much for Third Congressional district candidate Sal "Piss Boy" Pace (D-Pueblo), who was one of the few Democrats to reject even the bi-partisan reform bill offered by Lambert and White (House vote on HB 1384).
On Sunday, The Denver Post reported the reform of this program has resulted in savings of millions of dollars and uncovered massive fraud.
For years, Colorado was known as a place with a unique legal loophole that allowed people to import their elderly immigrant relatives — family members they'd already promised to provide for — and immediately make taxpayers support them.
Now, a year after restrictions were added to the state's Old Age Pension program, the costs of the program have plunged, saving millions of dollars.
That's good news to former state Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, who tried to reform the program in 2010 but backed off amid fierce opposition from fellow Democrats. Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, ultimately offered another measure, House Bill 1384, to reform the program that passed last year.
…State officials and caseworkers say the frequent result [of the pre-reformed program] was that people living in Colorado sponsored their elderly parents as immigrants, telling the federal government they take care of their relatives but then signing up their family members for the Old Age Pension. [Peak emphasis]
If Pace was opposed to the reform of a state-level program that saved millions, will he also oppose reform legislation in Congress that could save billions? It's a question he's sure to get on the campaign trail if he makes it to the general election.
This is the second time in as many months that Democrats have had egg on their face over their previous stances on entitlement programs. In August, Hoover also reported on the exploding and unsustainable costs of the Democrats' 2009 Medicaid expansion bill, a bill that Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) promised wouldn't cost "very much dollars."
In the case of the Old Age Pension program, a man in Jefferson County was found robbing the state of a million dollars by signing up elderly Vietnamese immigrants and pocketing the cash. Remember that next time opponents of entitlement reform reject the existence of massive entitlement fraud.
This issue is another feather in the cap of reform proponents who say there is still significant savings to be found in existing government spending.
It's also something that will likely be brought up in legislative debate next session when Democrats invariably think up a new way to spend limited state revenue and reject Republicans’ (and possibly some Democrat's) attempt to clean up existing government programs.
Hopefully those opponents of reform will be able to see through the egg on their face when reading their talking points.