During the vice-presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden dismissed questions about missing stimulus funds – something he was personally assigned to investigate, years ago – by quoting a figure from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s oversight board, to the effect that only about $11.1 million out of the $840 billion stimulus program had been lost to fraud thus far.
In Washington, $11.1 million of your money is pocket lint. It’s kind of embarrassing that you would even act upset over its theft. You should worry less about how your money is being wasted, and focus more upon the urgent need for you to send more of it to Biden and his boss.
But the Washington Guardian dug into Biden’s figure, and discovered it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problem with missing stimulus funds. Just for starters, Biden’s number “only identifies money that is considered lost to fraud and does not include funds still under investigation or those recommended for reimbursement after audits identified misspending.”
And there are still over nineteen hundred active investigations of stimulus abuse, on top of “nearly 600 convictions and judgments against people and companies accused of misusing stimulus funds.” Those amounts weren’t included in the figure Biden cited. In fact, according to the Guardian’s accounting, over $2 million more in wasted and misappropriated funds has been discovered in just a month, after the $11.1 million number Biden cited was compiled.
One of the cases under review concerns apparently invalid dependents cited in applications for stimulus-related benefits for veterans. 16,000 questionable dependents “with Social Security numbers matching those of dead people” have been discovered by analysts. More stimulus money was claimed by what appear to be shell companies, and over 400 Recovery Act recipients who falsely claimed they had previously defaulted on the terms of federal programs.
And even that doesn’t fully account for huge cost overruns, misallocations, and “green energy” bankruptcies that don’t quite qualify as outright criminal fraud. Furthermore, the worst is yet to come. It evidently takes a long time to complete some of these Recovery Act investigations. “These cases often take months or years, and we’ve got hundreds open right now across the government so that number is going to go up, probably by a large amount over the next 18 months,” said an anonymous official quoted by the Guardian.
But “the next 18 months” means “after the election,” so whatever, you know?