This editorial appeared in The Tri-City Herald.
We were going to say that executives who take billions of dollars in bonuses and salaries while their companies are being bailed out by the taxpayers are the moral equivalent of thieves.
But we'll settle for the slightly less damning definition by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
"Where you've got federal money involved, taxpayers' money involved, TARP money involved, and the way they have spent it, with no accountability, is getting close to being criminal."
Friday of last week we learned that $18.4 billion was paid out in bonuses to executives of banks that needed bailout money to stay open. That's about one-third of Washington's entire state budget.
It's difficult to know whether to laugh or to cry when the bankers' defense is, "If we don't pay big bonuses, we won't be able to keep good people."
"Good" bankers got us in this mess?
Anyone know where we can hire some bad ones?
Oh, that's right. They're the same people.
On Sunday, we learned that the taxpayer-financed Medicare system was overcharged by $4.4 billion in 2006 – based on audits of just 4 percent of the providers. No later figures are available because the government hasn't even gotten around to beginning audits for 2007 or 2008.
Medicare officials told McClatchy Newspapers that they had limited the original audits to seven of 165 required to "test the audit program."
To read the complete editorial, visit The Tri-City Herald.