CapitolWatch Defending American Taxpayers from Ineffective Government and Wasteful Spending en-us Federal Debt Update – Nearing $19 TRILLION Following the budget deal brokered by then House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), the national debt has risen more than half a trillion dollars in the last three weeks, as the suspension of the debt ceiling in late October has allowed the government to borrow as much as it wants. Before the debt ceiling was suspended, the national debt stood at $18.15 trillion. But over the last 22 days, it soared $578 billion. As of the end of November 2015, total national debt stood at $18.72 trillion. Social Security Pays Millions to Dead People According to an audit by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), the SSA has paid at least 740 dead people $17.1 million in benefits. FCC Not Collecting Fines, Leaving Millions Off the Table for Taxpayers Over the past two years the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has levied roughly $100 million in fines against nearly a dozen firms for defrauding a phone subsidy program, $35 million against a Chinese company for selling illegal wireless jamming equipment, and $100 million against AT&T this June for throttling customers on unlimited data plans. All money that would be useful to help shore up the nation’s finances, instead the FCC hasn’t collected a penny in the name of the taxpayers it represents. House Gets Tougher on Syrian Refugees Just a week after the ISIS attacks killed 129 people in Paris, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would stop the entry of refugees from Syria and Iraq until FBI background checks and additional certifications are added to their screening process. The SAFE Act passed by a vote of 289-137, and included the support of 47 Democrats, which places it above the two-thirds mark required to overturn a veto. Congressional Budget One of Few Being Slashed in Washington Washington, D.C. has become known for many things, but a smaller federal budget is not one of them. Over the past few years the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has actually become the norm when it comes to the budget for the legislative branch. One of their first acts after taking control in 2011 was to vote to slash their own budget by $35 million.