Thursday, April 25, 2024

COVID Stimulus Money Lined the Pockets of Scammers and Fueled Inflation; Nearly $100 Billion in COVID Relief Money Remains Unspent, and other C-Virus related stories

COVID Stimulus Money Lined the Pockets of Scammers and Fueled Inflation
It's a given at this point that much pandemic-related fiscal stimulus was lost to fraud. The government flooded the world with money, we were told, to offset the disruption of economies paralyzed by people minimizing social contact and (especially) by mandated closures. Sure, that was a crude "solution" to an avoidable problem. But government officials insist things would have been worse without stimulus.
Is that true, though, given that stimulus money not only padded the pockets of grifters but fueled the surging prices of recent years?
Billions Recovered (of Hundreds of Billions Stolen)
"Since I established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force three years ago, we have charged more than 3,500 defendants, seized or forfeited over $1.4 billion in stolen COVID-19 relief funds, and filed more than 400 civil lawsuits resulting in court judgements and settlements," Attorney General Merrick Garland boasted earlier this month.
Of course, $1.4 billion is only a fraction of the trillions spent by the federal government to stimulate the economy. Then again, it's also only a fraction of the stimulus money that was swiped by scam artists.
"The total amount of fraud across all UI [unemployment insurance] programs (including the new emergency programs) during the COVID-19 pandemic was likely between $100 billion and $135 billion—or 11% to 15% of the total UI benefits paid out during the pandemic," the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated in September 2023.
That was after the Small Business Administration's Inspector General found more than $200 billion stolen from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That represented more than one-sixth of the money disbursed through the two programs.
"The full extent of fraud associated with the COVID-19 relief funds will never be known with certainty," the GAO conceded in a report last November.
It's nice the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task clawed back $1.4 billion. But that's chump change in the context of massive handouts of money.
Stimulating Not Just Con Artists, but Inflation Too --->READ MORE HERE
Nearly $100 Billion in COVID Relief Money Remains Unspent:
Nearly $100 billion of money allocated to help state and local governments through the COVID-19 pandemic remains unspent.
That's the conclusion of a report published this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, passed soon after President Joe Biden took office, allocated $1.9 trillion intended to speed up the nation's recovery from the pandemic. That total included $350 billion for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), a U.S. Treasury Department program that awarded grants to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.
"Most ($325.5 billion) of the $350 billion" went to "states, the District of Columbia, and local governments," according to the GAO report. "SLFRF recipients have until December 31, 2024, to obligate their SLFRF awards and generally have until December 31, 2026, to spend their awards." Of that amount, D.C. and state governments received $195.8 billion.
As of September 30, 2023, the latter group "reported obligating 73 percent ($142.4 billion)" of their total and "spending 53 percent ($103.7 billion)."
In other words, state and D.C. governments are sitting on $92 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief money, more than $53 billion of which has not even been earmarked for anything.
This factoid is made all the more awkward because this week also marks one year since Biden signed a congressional resolution officially declaring an end to the COVID-19 national emergency. And yet, six months later, tens of billions of dollars meant to help state and local governments through that crisis remain unspent. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

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USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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