Coronavirus

Coronavirus Stimulus Has Cost $3.6 Trillion, but Oversight Is Still Severely Lacking

Before spending another dollar, Congress should make sure someone is keeping an eye how the largest pile of government cash in American history is being spent.

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Congress has authorized more than $3.6 trillion in new spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now lawmakers are already discussing plans for more pandemic spending—with perhaps as much $1 trillion directed to cash-strapped city and state governments.

Before spending another dollar, Congress should finish the important work of making sure someone is keeping an eye how the largest pile of government cash in American history is being spent.

The $2.3 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act contained three levels of oversight: a new inspector general position at the Treasury Department, an independent Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to coordinate the efforts of several other inspectors general within the executive branch, and a bipartisan congressional commission.

More than a month later, each has already been hamstrung by a combination of apathy and partisanship.

The congressional commission had only one appointee—it was supposed to have five—for several weeks, even as it was supposed to be overseeing more than $500 billion in spending. The delay in getting people appointed to the commission, assigning staff, and doing other basic set-up tasks "definitely hampered the ability for oversight to be effective," Rep. Katie Porter (D–Calif.) of the House Oversight Committee told The Daily Beast this week. "We have definitely wasted, misused taxpayer money because of that delay."

Meanwhile, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee has lacked a chairman since April 7, when President Donald Trump fired Glenn Fine, the Pentagon inspector general who had been tapped for the job on March 30. Since the CARES Act stipulates that only currently serving inspectors general can serve on the committee, Trump's firing of Fine—and his dismissal of several other inspectors general at the same time—has limited the committee's ability to do its job.

In a statement issued after he signed the CARES Act, Trump indicated his intention to further politicize oversight of the stimulus spending by suggesting that the administration may try to stop inspectors general from reporting directly to Congress without "presidential supervision."

In an April 22 letter to the White House, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) said the administration may be trying to "strip IGs [inspectors general] of their fundamental ability to timely report waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in government programs to Congress."

"Such authority is vital to their role in securing government transparency and efficiency, and is a critical role that all IGs routinely perform," he wrote.

With many of the official oversight channels blocked in one way or another, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) this week announced a new panel within the House Oversight Committee to review coronavirus spending.

That, too, has devolved into a partisan battle. They Democrats "just want to play politics and impeach," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) claimed Thursday in an interview with Fox News, "and they're following the same pattern when it comes to the committee as they did with all the others."

McCarthy went on to say that he wants "as much oversight as possible," but the opportunity for maximum oversight—or even adequate oversight—of the trillions in coronavirus spending has already passed. Congress and independent auditors in the executive branch are left to simply play catch-up at this point.

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  1. Yeah that’s gonna happen.

    1. It’s only money IOUs.

      1. Who hasn’t seen that played out before.
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  2. Elsewhere in the commentariat, on the Amash interview post, some Trump fan described Trump as having accomplished more libertarians goals than any other president.

    I guess this $3.6 trillion on spending, with little oversight, is one of those big accomplishments?

    1. Justin Amash: It’s pretty simple: When you have a crisis like this, the key is to get assistance to people who need it the most as fast as possible. It’s that simple.

      Hmmm.. .

      Doesnt sound like he is against spending or putting proper controls on the spending.

      1. Good, Fast, or Cheap. Choose two.

        1. One blonde and one brunette.

          1. This guy gets it.

      2. We don’t know the details of what would have happened in a counterfactual world where Amash was President.

        We do know what did occur with Trump. There is an article about it directly above.

        Trump is a libertarian, my ass.

        1. Sounds like both Sevo, lc1789, and Trump are living rent free in your head. Sweet.

          1. Both = 2

            Anyhoo, Trump is, you know, president of the country so it’s kinda hard to escape thinking about the things he does and says unless you live in a cave.

      3. Amash didn’t vote for either of the coronavirus relief packages.

        1. Oh, yeah. That would have been a good point for me to make.

    2. It was me, and I was referring to deregulation obviously not spending.

      I’m curious who you think the most libertarian President has been in recent years. Say, since the early 90s?


      1. Congress has authorized more than $3.6 trillion in new spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now lawmakers are already discussing plans for more pandemic spending—with perhaps as much $1 trillion directed to cash-strapped city and state governments.

        After all, Congress has nothing to do with spending. I notice you’re not blasting Democrats or Republicans in Congress. Why not? It would appear they deserve it just as much, if not more so for writing the damn thing. Personally it’s amazing Democrats trust Trump enough to essentially hand him a 3 trillion dollar check. They literally just tried to remove him from office.

        1. I was blasting commenters here who are in love with Trump, not so much Trump himself. One thing I cannot stand is someone who claims to be a libertarian yet engages in President worship.

          1. Amen to that

          2. Exactly!!

        2. So Trump is the Enabler in Chief, that’s it.

      2. Went back and looked and it was Sevo’s comment that I saw. You may have made a similar comment. Sevo didn’t qualify his praise for Trump as only being in regard to deregulation.

        1. Then my bad on that. It’s insane to think Trump is good on spending, we knew when he was elected he would be bad at it.

      3. None of them. Why would I say anything positive about the spending habits of any recent President?

        It’s possible to take a dim view of both the Republicans and Democrats. The Trump worshipers here don’t realize that, but I’m starting to realize they can only think in black and white. Democrats Bad, so Orange Man Good.

        1. Democrats are always worse. There’s no denying it. Pretending that an LP candidate can win is futile. Pretending Biden would be better is futile.

          1. Democrats are worse at shoveling our money down the throats of corporations.

            1. I was led to believe that shoving things down throats is how you win the “culture war”.

          2. There’s no denying it.

            Denying it, right here. Both major parties are terrible about spending. Both major parties suck eggs.

            This idea that we have to support Trump because the Democrats are so much worse than the Republicans is bullshit promulgated by people who would come up with an excuse to vote Republican no matter what.

            1. “This idea that we have to support Trump because the Democrats are so much worse than the Republicans is bullshit promulgated by people who would come up with an excuse to vote Republican no matter what.”

              This claim is made by people who
              Are.
              Full.
              Of.
              Shit.

        2. You’re right, they’re all horrible but if I had to pick one recent Prez when it comes to debt added then my pick for most libertarian recent prez would be Clinton. And I’m not even a Democrat.

          1. “…my pick for most libertarian recent prez would be Clinton.”
            Bullshit.

      4. I think asking which President has been most libertarian is like asking which one has been most Hindu. There might be some overlap here and there between philosophies, but the core tenet of libertarianism is individualism and I don’t think there’s ever been any head of government who wasn’t a collectivist at heart. Government, by nature, works for “the common good” and yet I’d say people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton did far more for the common good than any politician ever did, and they were all evil greedy bastards looking out for themselves. It’s just that the best way to serve your own interests is to serve the interests of others. If you’re going into it saying you mean to serve others, you’re full of shit, you’re a liar, and you’re not to be trusted.

        With that being said, I’d have to say that Trump has accomplished far more than any other President in my lifetime – first by the simple fact that he kept Hillary out of the chair, which, despite all the post hoc rationalizations that Hillary was such a bad candidate that anybody could have beaten her, was something only Trump could have accomplished. Secondly, and I think more importantly, Trump’s “stiggin’ it to the libs” is a far more significant achievement and why he is a more dangerous opponent to the left than he’s given credit for.

        For all my life, we’ve seen a slow but inexorable leftward slide toward progressivism because the progressives have controlled the narrative and we’ve always been fighting a defensive battle in a long, slow retreat from the battlefield. Inch by inch we’ve given up ground we’ll never retake and the endgame is inevitable. Now Trump comes along and berates them, laughs at them, spits on them, calls them names, treats them like shit – and shows them to be the unserious paper tigers they’ve always been. He’s reminding us that in order to beat your enemy you must first believe that you can beat your enemy, and mockery is the one thing no “serious” opponent can withstand. It makes them angry and crazy to think you’re not taking them as seriously as they take themselves and angry and crazy people tend to make mistakes when you’re fighting them.

        And yet, I still have little hope the GOP is going to learn anything from this. As Justin Amash said, we want a President who’s “normal, honest, practical, capable”. Well, no, fuck you, we ain’t having that shit no more. We’ve seen normal and practical for the last hundred years or so and we’ve seen where it’s gotten us. Capable? Capable at what? Surrendering to the left? No thanks. You’d better learn to stand up on your hind legs and scream you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take this shit any more. And you’d damn well better be honest about it.

        It’s like this shit going on in Michigan with armed protestors storming the statehouse and terrorizing the governor – if the governor is scared shitless by the citizenry exercising their god-given rights, it says a hell of a lot more about the governor than the citizenry. Government should be afraid of the citizenry and anybody who thinks it should be the other way around, as this governor seems to think, is wrong. But for some reason, this governor seems to be what we’re supposed to accept as “normal”, the angry citizens are supposed to be the crazy ones. Again, no, fuck you, we ain’t having that shit no more.

        Trump is a terribly flawed human being, quite possibly the worst human being ever to hold the office, but he’s a fighter and he’s shown that we can in fact fight and that we can hope to win and maybe that’s enough. But Jesus Christ, the guy’s a born used car salesman, he’s a championship huckster and a showman and a liar and please stop treating him like he’s the second coming of Cyrus the Great.

        1. Wow! Gr8 post.

    3. We would have gotten all this spending with any President.

      1. That’s like saying “eh, somebody else would have killed that hooker.”

    4. Yuge Accomplishment

    5. Would that be the spending bill that had veto proof support in both houses (you know, the people who actually appropriate money)?

      Which poor TDS sufferer are you?

    6. Congress spent the money. All spending originates in Congress. It was unanimous. What would the point of a veto have been? It would have just been overridden. Just one more political loss for an embattled president? You would have liked that and would be screaming about him holding up the stimulus then. Vote your House Rep. and Senator out of office if you don’t like the deal.

      1. No, I would not have been screaming about it. You are Wrongy W. Wrongenstein.

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    8. lovetrumpspending1789
      May.1.2020 at 5:35 pm
      “Elsewhere in the commentariat, on the Amash interview post, some Trump fan described Trump as having accomplished more libertarians goals than any other president.”
      That was me, lefty scumbag, and he has, regardless of your cherry picking.
      Fuck off and die.

  3. Before spending another dollar, Congress should finish the important work of making sure someone is keeping an eye how the largest pile of government cash in American history is being spent.

    Meh. Just keep those printing presses whirring. It’s an EMERGENCY!

  4. If you think $3.6 large without oversight is bad, you might not want to look at how much the “with oversight” costs. Government logic: “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” implies “If you don’t ask, you can afford it.”

    1. Sigh. If you are truly a Too Big to Fail crony you don’t even need to ask for a bailout.

  5. Good news!
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is installing six of the most senior longest-serving Democrats to oversee the $3,000,000,000,000.
    #praisebetothestate
    #orangemanbad

    1. They have the most experience steering cash to Donkey causes. Duh!

  6. Just send out 4 of those trillion dollar coins and get change from the suckers…er, taxpayers in real money. Problem solved!

  7. “McCarthy went on to say that he wants “as much oversight as possible,” but the opportunity for maximum oversight—or even adequate oversight—of the trillions in coronavirus spending has already passed.”

    Now tell me we can’t afford to provide healthcare to poor people. It would take a poor mfer a billion lifetimes to get what these fuckers took from Uncle Sam in a month. Socialism for the rich, death for the poor.

    1. We can’t afford it now! Just pissed away three trillion. Pockets are empty.

    2. It’s cute you think this is about rich vs poor and not about political class vs everyone else.

      Or do you think that that money ISN’T going to the politically well connected?

    3. Hi Pod…

  8. The one bright side of corporate control of govt is that they’re liberals on social issues. That’s why rightwingers always feel like they’re losing even when they win all these elections. Trump is the personification of that phenomenon.

  9. Very nice article, have a great knowledge

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