COVID Money Is Being Misused
Government waste and a lack of transparency seem to be a hallmark of the last few years. Let’s pray for financial accountability.
From Fox News. What do an armored SWAT vehicle in Pittsburgh, “restorative justice” educational discipline in New York City, racial healing pop-ups in Minneapolis, and school vape detectors in Montgomery, Ala., have in common? They’re all funded by federal taxpayers through the hastily-passed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Democrats advanced through Congress on a party-line vote in early 2021.
The $1.9 trillion bill was framed as an emergency measure to help the United States dig out of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences.
But much money is going toward projects that are seemingly unrelated or barely related to the virus or the recovery from the pandemic. Technically, many such projects are permitted. But it is not how the package was sold.
“For over a year, the American people were told they were on their own. We’ve seen how hard that has been on so many Americans,” Biden said at a White House appearance celebrating Senate passage of the bill in March 2021. “Everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail, starting with beating this virus and vaccinating the country.”
And at a White House signing ceremony six days later, Biden promised: “It’s going to require fastidious oversight to make sure there’s no waste or fraud, and the law does what it’s designed to do. And I mean it: We have to get this right.”
And yet, not only is money being spent on seemingly unrelated priorities, a significant portion of the funding for local and state governments and school districts isn’t even spent yet.
Just 12% of the over $100 billion earmarked for elementary and secondary schools has been spent so far, according to federal statistics. And according to Treasury Department figures, as of the end of March 2022 only about $70 billion of the $350 billion allocated for state and local governments had been spent. Just over $100 billion of that money was contractually committed to be spent.
A Treasury spokesperson told Fox News Digital that 67% of the money available to state and local governments through March was budgeted — and likely more, due to smaller jurisdictions not reporting. The total funding available through that point was just under $225 billion. That means likely about half of the overall $350 billion had been budgeted for future use by late March.
“Washington allocated $350 billion to state and local governments to close budget deficits that did not even exist,” Manhattan Institute senior fellow Brian Riedl told Fox News Digital. “These states are totally awash in more money than they know what to do with, so it’s no surprise they haven’t allocated yet – they’re going to be sitting on this money for years.”
“Of course, the standards are going to fall and they’re going to look for any excuse to spend the money, no matter how wasteful,” Riedl said.
Among the spending tenuously related to the pandemic, Minneapolis allocated $300,000 to, “Promote healing and positive activation in the Black community to build and implement a larger vision of an equitable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 and racial trauma. These pop-up style events will help address the need for healing and social cohesion.” This is according to a tracker of funding for large cities and counties run by the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution.
Allegheny County, Pa., which includes Pittsburgh, purchased a “new armored rescue vehicle” for its SWAT team for over $300,000 to replace a previous aging one. That represents less than 1% of the overall funding the county got received, and it fell under an eligible category for the funds of “revenue replacement” for “provision of government services.” But it’s just one of many examples nationwide of funding going to things voters might not have expected COVID-19 funding to go toward….
“That’s the kind of thing that we should be exactly 0% surprised by,” R Street Institute senior fellow Jonathan Bydlak said. “Any time you have that much money flowing out of Washington, frankly without any real strings or oversight… you’re going to get these cases….”
How are you praying for financial accountability in our government? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Excerpt from Fox News. Photo Credit: Canva)
Partner with Us
Intercessors for America is the trusted resource for millions of people across the United States committed to praying for our nation. If you have benefited from IFA's resources and community, please consider joining us as a monthly support partner. As a 501(c)3 organization, it's through your support that all this possible.
Thanks for Praying!