During a time when employees are struggling with stagnant wages, falling home prices and rising gas and food prices, it´s all the more stomach turning to read news of a new report from the Government Accountability Office that finds thousands U.S. employers appear to have been ducking federal payroll taxes and getting away with it for at least a year, maybe more -- essentially stealing money from employees´ paychecks and putting it to nefarious use.

The companies, GAO finds, bilked workers and the federal government out of more than $40 billion by failing to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes. Even more maddening, violators have been found to own luxury cars and expensive homes on island property.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) called the actions "blatant cheating," but I can think of some more colorful language. I also have a few choice words for Steve Sebastian, GAO director of financial management and assurance, who, Workforce Management reports, said the Justice Department has been "somewhat reluctant" to pursue payroll tax cases because they are labor-intensive.

Not to shoot the messenger, but saying the Justice Department didn´t go after tax cheaters because it´s too much work is inexcusable. I´m sure the employees who were having their payroll tax deductions stolen were working pretty hard; their government needs to work just as hard to make sure the money being deducted for their labor goes to the correct source, and punish employers who divert it elsewhere.

And not pursuing $40 billion missing is not "somewhat reluctant." It´s complete disregard. And employees -- who hear over and over that they are employers´ No. 1 asset -- deserve better.

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