Looks like desperation is beginning to set in over at Team Whitman headquarters. Monday in Roseville, Meg Whitman told a small audience that she would appoint a grand jury to root out the more than $7.5 billion in fraud she claims occurs annually in programs for the poor, seniors and people with disabilities. Tough talk. Just one problem, those numbers have absolutely no basis in reality.
Greg Lucas at California’s Capitol analyzes Whitman’s bogus claim of fraud:
Logic suggests hospitals, case workers, emergency room physicians, state administrators, nurses, drug companies, employment training facilities, childcare providers, in-home care workers and the myriad other participants in the three programs would have to work serious overtime to do their jobs and bilk the state 60 cents on the dollar.
Nor does it seem such a level of corruption would go unnoticed, even without creation of a statewide grand jury.
A telephone call to Whitman’s campaign seeking clarification of her $7.5 billion figure was not returned May 17.
Of course, it’s not surprising that Whitman is avoiding questions about the source of her claims of fraud. That’s because it appears she just made the numbers up.
To be fair, Whitman’s had a really bad couple of weeks. Questions linger about her connections to Goldman Sachs. Her once gargantuan lead in the polls over Steve Poizner has all but evaporated. She continues to catch heat for caring so little about the state she wants to run that she didn’t even bother to vote in most elections while living here.
But going on the attack against low-income Californians, workers, seniors and people with disabilities with made up numbers seems to be a new low, even for her.
In-Home Supportive Services, CalWorks and other programs that offer assistance to California’s most vulnerable are cost effective and a lifeline to those who rely upon them. And the workers who administer these programs are dedicated public servants. Rather than provide solutions to our state’s budget mess, Whitman’s stealing a page from Gov. Schwarzenegger, who has repeatedly sought to scapegoat workers and the state’s most vulnerable for problems he’s created.
SEIU State Council Communications Director Mary Gutierrez:
If Meg Whitman were truly committed to protecting taxpayer dollars, she'd be fighting to protect home care services that are more cost-effective and compassionate than the alternative — forcing people with disabilities and our elderly into nursing homes at five times the cost.
But rather than having an honest discussion about the challenges facing our state, Whitman is using grossly inflated numbers to score cheap political points and scapegoat California's frail grandparents, people with disabilities, and the hard-working caregivers who have dedicated their lives to serving them.
Californians deserve a fact-based and fair debate. We call on Whitman's campaign to disclose the source of her estimates.
If yesterday’s bogus attacks are any indication of how Team Whitman plans to close out the primary campaign, don’t be surprised to see her precipitous slide in the polls continue.