Nobody knows for sure how much the federal government loses annually to waste, fraud, and incompetence, but the tab just for improper payments by Medicare last year was nearly $30 billion.

For Medicaid, the total lost to improper payments was nearly $20 billion, and more than $13 billion for Medicare Advantage, according to

Here's another way to look at those figures: Medicare got it wrong on 8.5 percent of its total payments of nearly $350 billion in 2012. For Medicaid and Medicare Advantage, the error rate percentages were 7.1 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively.

But wait, there's more!

It's bad enough that the federal government's three biggest health care programs have between them a 9 percent average for improper payments.

It's even worse at the Department of Treasury, which 22 percent of the time sends Earned Income Tax Credits to undeserving people, for a total of $12.6 billion last year.

And at the Department of Labor, the error rate percentage is 11.4 percent on unemployment insurance payments, and it's 9.1 percent for Social Security Administration disability subsidies.

It's getting better

Believe it or not, the government's overall estimated improper payments error rate for 2012 was 4 percent, an improvement over 2011's 4.69 percent and 2010's 5.29 percent.

Federal program managers claim to recoup most of the tax dollars lost to improper payments. The overall government average is 89 percent, according to official estimates.

But the recovery data is inconsistent across the country. At the Department of Defense, for example, $1.8 billion in improper payments to contractors was identified and 80 percent, or $1.4 billion was recovered.

At the Department of Transportation, however, the recovery percentage was only 33 percent. For the Department of Homeland Security, the recovery rate is 44 percent.

On today's Washington Examiner

Editorial: The EPA's war on coal isn't supported by the facts.

Charlie Spiering: Rubio says eight weeks till Democrats may support Obamacare repeal.

Susan Ferrechio: Darrell Issa demands answers on alleged fake unemployment numbers.

Phillip Klein: Scott Walker may be Chris Christie's worst nightmare.

Noemie Emery: Why we remember Teddy Roosevelt and JFK.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth: Government doesn't work as an insurance middleman.

In other news

The New York Times: Perks ease way for Congress on Obamacare plans.

The Washington Post: Post-2014 military deal with Afghanistan appears closer.

USA Today: Census Bureau denies unemployment data was faked.

CNN: Republican congressman from Florida faces coke charge.

CBS News: Obama approval, Obamacare support plunge in new poll.

The Wall Street Journal: Obama backs piecemeal immigration reform.

Righty Playbook

National Review Online: What we know about Valerie Jarrett.

Washington Free Beacon: Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman decries defense budget uncertainty.

American Thinker: More fraud and lies in Obamacare.

Lefty Playbook

Talking Points Memo: Five ways to tell if Obamacare is working.

Daily Kos: Republicans are all for local control except when they aren't.

The Nation: Are we on the brink of worsening our hunger crisis?