When you spend your own money, chances are you spend it wisely. But if you were spending someone else’s money, would you take as much care? Governments are always operating with OPM or “other people’s money.” Bureaucrats direct trillions of dollars with no vested interest in getting the best or cheapest results. If COVID stimulus programs have done anything, it’s to prove once again just how ineffectual and broken the system is. Tony Romm reports on the massive fraud found in COVID spending for The Washington Post:
In Stamford, Conn., a 46-year-old resident pleaded guilty after putting a portion of $4 million in coronavirus aid toward the purchase of a Porsche. And a Mercedes. And a BMW.
In Somerset, N.J., a 51-year-old woman allegedly invented employees, inflated wages and fabricated entire tax filings to collect $1 million in loans.
And in St. Petersburg, Fla., a federal judge sentenced to prison a 63-year-old man who obtained $800,000 on behalf of businesses that did not exist.
The cases and charges, each announced over the past month, count among hundreds involving a slew of programs enacted by Congress in the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic, money dispatched with such an urgency at the time that it is now putting Washington watchdogs to the test.
Roughly two years after lawmakers approved their first tranche of rescue funds, the U.S. government is grappling with an unprecedented challenge: how to oversee its own historic stimulus effort. Totaling nearly $6 trillion, the loans, grants, direct checks and other emergency assistance summed to more than the entire federal budget in the fiscal year before the coronavirus arrived, creating a unique and lasting strain on policymakers to ensure the funds have been put to good use.
The easiest answer for overseeing efforts like these is to not pursue them in the first place. No government can successfully direct $6 trillion of funding in two years, or perhaps in any number of years.
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