Democrats and Republicans are usually at each other’s throats, and recent hearings in Washington are an example of this. But those hearings go far beyond politics as usual: They’re mind-boggling and shocking, and will not fade from the news and be forgotten. The issue: the Government’s Covid relief programs were ripped off big time.
Different people have different opinions of exactly what “big time” means. Would you agree that tens of billions qualify? If not, how about hundreds of billions? People in the know are talking about the latter number and no one is challenging them.
Politics is a hard ball game and too often compromise is not an option. Before the November 2022 elections, the Democrats were in charge of Congress and called all the shots. When the pandemic began sweeping across the country, they passed a variety of programs geared to helping individuals and keeping small businesses afloat. This sounds reasonable enough.
But now the Republicans are holding the reins, and while they agree with the sentiment of those programs, they are holding hearings to determine if the US experienced a second pandemic, this one of theft and fraud.
Some details for the hearings have already been released and it’s a good bet that lots more will follow. When they are, expect tempers to soar, fingers pointed, and demands made for audits and investigations.
Rx For A Pandemic
Let’s go back in time about two years and recall the events and mood in the country. The number of people becoming infected with the virus is skyrocketing and hospitals are literally running out of room to treat the ill. Gatherings are forbidden so religious services are prohibited, schools shut, travel restricted, and factories and stores forced to close. The economy is falling off a cliff, and a selloff on Wall Street is wiping out life savings and 401Ks of millions. No wonder so many people were panicking and crying out for help.
Both the federal and local governments stepped up to the challenge and provided emergency relief programs. In many cases, these saved businesses from folding, enabled people to keep a roof over their heads, and kept them from starving.
Unfortunately, as in crises in the past, fraudsters saw this as a golden opportunity and milked it for everything they could. Now Congress is learning how much money that amounted to and exactly where it went, and the details aren’t pretty.
The House Oversight Committee is tackling this and here’s how the US Whitehouse News reported the events of the February 1 hearing: “House members heard that over $560 billion in unemployment payments made during the Covid lockdown went to criminal gangs outside the United States. The DOJ Inspector General says he cannot at this time say it won’t happen again.”
Rumors of fraud and theft from government relief programs had been circulating in Washington for some time, but were not investigated. A report appearing in the October 22 issue of The Washington Times, a politically-right leaning publication, noted that those reports “have been met with stony silence by Congressional leaders,” who were Democrats. Republicans, on the other hand, were eager to pursue and comment about this issue.
Who Stole It?
The recent report issued by the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General stated that a sizable portion of the monies distributed through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation did not reach their intended recipients.
Colorado’s Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert serves on the House Oversight Committee, and following are some of her comments: “So here’s how badly the US taxpayer was conned. The United States federal government has reportedly been defrauded of more money in the last two years than the entire tax revenues of England, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Greece, Israel, Canada, Poland, and Brazil combined.
“The American taxpayers have one question. How were these bureaucrats so dang incompetent that they were being scammed out of $35 million every hour for nearly two years – absolutely insane.
“And what’s equally concerning is the fact that for years Congress has known the size and scope of which the American taxpayer has been defrauded, yet this Committee has refused to act. Now the Republicans hold the gavel. And in a desperate attempt to protect the Bidens, the big tech industry, and the Democrat Party, the mainstream media has tried to discredit this committee before our work has even begun
“There should be nothing more bipartisan than ensuring American tax dollars aren’t stolen by fraudsters. But sadly, it’s taken a Republican-controlled oversight and accountability committee to be willing to work on it.”
Pennsylvania Republican Representative Scott Perry added this: “According to IDME… (hundreds of billions of) pandemic unemployment assistant funds did not go to Americans, and instead went to criminal gangs in Russia, China and Nigeria…A Nigerian crime ring named Scattered Canary was involved in submitting more than two million claims. Another group called APT 41 is alleged to have stolen $20 million in unemployment compensation through 2,000 accounts and more than 40,000 financial transactions.
“Do (states) not see Nigeria, China or Russia or some address associated with a foreign country and say, ‘I wonder why foreign countries are getting unemployment compensation? Do they fly back to work in America every day?’”
The exact amount of Covid relief fraud is still unknown, but what has been uncovered so far is jaw-dropping. Even in November 2022, well before the House Oversight Committee began holding hearings on this issue, prosecutors were calling this the biggest fraud in US history.
Even as more is learned about the vast sums of Covid relief stolen, it’s alleged that there is fraud in other government programs and agencies. The Oversight Committee’s next target is accountability of all economic and military aid to Ukraine. What do you think it might discover?
The House Oversight hearings are telling us the degree we’ve been suckered, and this is coming at a time when the government is forced to borrow a great deal of money to pay its bills. And this is understandably infuriating a lot of people.
True, this is not the first time we’ve heard this tune; in some others, Republicans were implicated. But this time may be different because the cylinders of economics, politics and reform appear to have aligned. It’s just possible that now the government really will do something about corruption.
Sources: foxnews.com; gao.gov; nbcnws.com; washingtontimes.com; Breaking: You Won’t Believe What Our Government Spent Over $560 Billion On