A number of people who were ineligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid but were nevertheless mistakenly given money by the government after Hurricane Sandy are now complaining about being asked to repay it to the taxpayers on the grounds that they are poor, elderly or disabled.
The money, several millions of dollars of it, was supposed to cover the costs of temporary housing but these folks admittedly spent it on other stuff. They were ineligible for the government assistance in the first place, either because of errors, misunderstandings of the rules or outright fraud.
Now they claim they were told by FEMA officials initially that the aid was a “gift from Obama.” We're on a fixed income. I don't have that kind of money!" explained one disabled recipient of a FEMA check in the amount of $2,486 he was not entitled to.
Let’s see if I understand this issue correctly. The federal government is simply giving away bundles of taxpayer money to lots of people it deems are “eligible” that sustained damage after a big storm but perhaps didn’t take the precaution of buying insurance. They aren’t expected to pay it back. The rest of us saps who suffer the same kind of damage from storms or other disasters are expected to fend for ourselves.
Some of the free money recipients that were not entitled to the cash even under the generous rules of the government program are now complaining that, even though they were ineligible to get the cash, they nevertheless shouldn’t be expected to pay the money back because they are poor, disabled or old.
Poor, disabled and elderly folks should not be obligated to pay back money they admittedly weren’t entitled to in the first instance goes the argument. If the taxpayers give them money by mistake it’s finder’s keeper’s loser’s weepers, they say. Young able bodied recipients though, must re-pay the money. It’s a new concept in commercial law.
The bottom line, however, is that what the government giveth, the government can take away.