What Has Trump Done With $500B Of Taxpayer Money? What Is He Hiding?

M S

“Oversight and transparency should be demanded of any major executive-branch spending program.”

According to Catherine Rampell’s opinion piece in The Washington Post, the Trump administration has been refusing to “reveal where a half-trillion dollars of our hard-earned cash has gone.”

  • When lawmakers passed the $2 trillion bill known as the Cares Act, the Trump administration had agreed to “several major oversight and disclosure measures. Senior officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, repeatedly pledged ‘full transparency on anything we do,’” Rampell wrote.

However, “since then, the administration has worked to sabotage virtually all of these accountability mechanisms. While paying lip service to ‘transparency,’ it has fired, demoted, or otherwise kneecapped inspectors general, some of whom recently wrote to congressional leaders warning of systematic efforts to avoid scrutiny required by law. The watchdog Government Accountability Office also complained that the administration has refused to provide critical data on the bailout,” she continued.

  • Last week, it was reported that the administration “backtracked on its commitment to publicly disclose the beneficiaries of its $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP),” and additionally, there was no disclosure of information about whether any of the small businesses that received help happened to belong to President Trump.

Trump has “frequently funneled other public funds into his own pockets, such as through outsize Secret Service golf cart rentals and overpriced staffer stays at Trump hotel properties. Scandal after scandal relating to aides’ misuse of taxpayer dollars has eroded any right the administration might claim to deserving the benefit of the doubt,” Rampell stated.

  • Furthermore, Trump also publicly “refused to commit to not receiving any coronavirus-related bailout aid,” according to the op-ed.

“Let’s just see what happens,” he said in a White House briefing in March. He also told reporters: “I have hotels. Everybody knew I had hotels when I got elected. They knew I was a successful person when I got elected, so it’s one of those things.”

  • Right now, taxpayers have “no way of knowing” whether Trump’s businesses applied for help through PPP.
  • Rampell argued that “PPP was necessary to preserve American businesses and jobs. Any program of its unprecedented size and speed, however, requires abundant disclosure and vigilant oversight, even if Trump isn’t using it as a personal piggy bank.”

Moreover, Rampell wrote that “other arguments in favor of disclosure include both agency precedent and law.”

  • The Small Business Administration has published detailed data on recipients of its 7(a) loan program since 1991. Rampell reported that “PPP was explicitly built upon that program. And the fact that the PPP loans, unlike the traditional 7(a) ones, are broadly forgivable argues for subjecting them to even higher levels of scrutiny.”
  • Despite Mnuchin’s “alleged commitment to transparency,” he informed lawmakers last week that “information on loan recipients and amounts would not be released because it is ‘proprietary’ and ‘confidential,’” the report continued.

The administration is refusing to release “exactly the kinds of details that media organizations and congressionally appointed government watchdogs are requesting,” Rampell wrote.

  • This Monday, Mnuchin tweeted that he is planning “discussions” with lawmakers about releasing more information.

Rampell concluded that “further rounds of stimulus must explicitly mandate disclosure of who benefits from these bailouts and how much.” That much, the American people deserve to know.

Read the full story here.

Comments

U.S. & Global News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY