Denny Hastert: Uh, About That $500,000 Statue…

Denny Hastert: Uh, About That $500,000 Statue…

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert is surrounded by officers as he leaves federal court after pleading not guilty to federal charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI in Chicago, Illinois, United State
© Jim Young / Reuters
By Brianna Ehley, The Fiscal Times

Illinois state lawmakers are hitting the breaks on a proposal to spend half a million dollars for a statue honoring former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert after the Justice Department indicted the Illinois Republican on multiple charges Thursday.

About a month before the DOJ announced the indictment against Hastert,

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced a bill to allocate $500,000 from the Illinois Development Fund for a statue of Hastert, who represented Illinois’ 14th Congressional for 20 years after serving as a state representative. 

Related: Lying, Cheating, Stealing: How Corrupt is America?

However, Madigan’s spokesperson, Steve Brown, said Hastert contacted lawmakers asked that they defer the proposal because of the state’s financial condition. Illinois currently is running a $9 billion deficit. Still, the bill, which passed through a house committee, was placed on the calendar for a third reading on May 18.

In the indictment released Thursday evening, federal investigators allege that Hastert paid $3.5 million in hush money to “cover up misconduct.” The money allegedly went to someone in Yorkville, Ill., where he previously coached high school wrestling. The seven-page indictment also accused him of lying to the FBI.

Following the announcement, Hastert reportedly resigned from his current position at Washington, D.C., law firm Dickstein Shapiro, as well as a board member at CME Group, according to Reuters.

Congressional Report of the Day: The US Pays Nearly 4 Times More for Drugs

A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D.  at a local pharmacy
REUTERS/George Frey
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The House Ways and Means Committee released a new analysis of drug prices in the U.S. compared to 11 other developed nations, and the results, though predictable, aren’t pretty. Here are the key findings from the report:

  • The U.S. pays the most for drugs, though prices varied widely.
  • U.S. drug prices were nearly four times higher than average prices compared to similar countries.
  • U.S. consumers pay significantly more for drugs than other countries, even when accounting for rebates.
  • The U.S. could save $49 billion annually on Medicare Part D alone by using average drug prices for comparator countries.

Read the full congressional report here.

Chart of the Day: How the US Ranks for Retirement

Ken Bosma / Flickr
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The U.S. ranks 18th for retiree well-being among developed nations, according to the latest Global Retirement Index from Natixis, the French corporate and investment bank. The U.S. fell two spots in the ranking this year, due in part to rising economic inequality and poor performance for life expectancy.

About 90% of Trump Counties Have Received Trade War Farm Aid

FILE PHOTO: A combine drives over stalks of soft red winter wheat during the harvest on a farm in Dixon, Illinois
Jim Young
By The Fiscal Times Staff

President Trump won more than 2,600 of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties in the 2016 election, and residents in nearly 90% of those counties – or more than 2,300 – have received some level of aid from the administration’s Market Facilitation Program, a $16 billion effort that compensates farmers for losses incurred as a result of Trump’s trade war with China.

Drawing on a new report from the Environmental Working Group, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump says the data “show the extent to which [the farm] subsidies overlap with Trump’s base of political support.”

To be fair, about 80% of the counties Hillary Clinton won also received some degree of aid, Bump says, but there are many fewer of them, given the concentration of her supporters in urban areas.

Overall, residents in more than 2,600 counties in the U.S. have received payments from the farm aid program, with the heaviest concentration in the Midwest.

Number of the Day: $1.57

iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

A new study from the Bipartisan Policy Center says that Medicare would save $1.57 for every dollar it spends delivering healthy food to elderly beneficiaries who have recently been discharged from the hospital. The savings would come from a reduction in the rate of readmissions to the hospital for patients suffering from a wide range of common ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure, diabetes and emphysema.

“If you were going to offer meals to every Medicare beneficiary, it would be cost-prohibitive,” said BPC’s Katherine Hayes. “By targeting it to a very, very sick group of people is how we were able to show there could be savings.”

Map of the Day: Navigating the IRS

IRS, activist lawyers to clash in court over tax preparer rules
Reuters
By Michael Rainey

The Taxpayer Advocate Service – an independent organization within the IRS whose roughly 1,800 employees both assist taxpayers in resolving problems with the tax collection agency and recommend changes aimed at improving the system – released a “subway map” that shows the “the stages of a taxpayer’s journey.” The colorful diagram includes the steps a typical taxpayer takes to prepare and file their tax forms, as well as the many “stations” a tax return can pass through, including processing, audits, appeals and litigation. Not surprisingly, the map is quite complicated. Click here to review a larger version on the taxpayer advocate’s site.