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House subcommittee takes up Social Security fraud by first responders

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republicans on Capitol Hill found it hard to contain their anger.

"We are defrauding the American people. We are not defrauding Social Security," said Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pennsylvania.

At a House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing Thursday, the GOP lashed out at top officials of the Social Security Administration. It came more than a week after 106 people – including many police and fire retirees – were indicted for Social Security disability fraud.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who sat front and center during the hearing, many of the defendants apparently lied about developing psychiatric problems after the 9/11 attacks.

Republicans said its part of a pattern.

"This is a program plagued with fraud and conspiracy," said Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.

According to Republicans, this latest incident is a sign that the Social Security Administration isn't doing its job, but officials at the SSA said they were the ones who notified authorities of the scheme. Democrats came to the rescue of the SSA, claiming the tone of the GOP was rooted purely in politics.

"The tone of the questions, I hope you understand, is we do have a Democratic president and sometimes anything that is done by this administration is not appreciated," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York.

That's not to say that Democrats weren't outraged. They now fear that this case could hurt the reputation of people who legitimately got sick while working on the pile.

"If any member of Congress tries to use the fraudulent activities to taint the sick and wounded first responders of 9/11, they will have to deal with me directly," said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-New York.

It's unlikely this case in New York City will be the last. Government officials say they are currently conducting more large-scale investigations that could uncover more fraud nationwide.

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