Reacting to a report released earlier this week indicating more than $200 billion in federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds were distributed to potentially fraudulent recipients, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., summed up the findings, as well as Congress’ continued spending, in one word for Newsmax on Thursday: “Unreal.”
Buck’s reaction came while appearing on “Carl Higbie FRONTLINE” and hearing the findings of the report, which was released Tuesday by the Office of Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware. The report stated that the estimated $200 billion represents 17% of the $1.2 trillion of COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds that were distributed by the agency.
“It’s unbelievable. There is very little that the federal government does well, and giving money away is just a disaster waiting to happen,” Buck said.
The congressman cited as an example the bipartisan deal struck last month between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to suspend the $31.4 trillion federal debt ceiling for two years.
“When we look at the overall spending in this government as a result of the McCarthy-Biden debt deal, we’re going to incur $4 trillion more debt and add it to our national debt, bringing the total to $36 trillion,” he said. “And then you hear stories like this, and the stories go on and on.
“We know that the federal government owns 77,000 vacant buildings and yet spends billions of dollars to put workers in private office space. We know that one VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] program, 49.4% of their payments were improper payments — payments to dead people or people who fraudulently applied for the benefit.
“It’s just unreal that we keep wasting all this money,” Buck added, “and yet just keep piling on more and more debt.”
Host Eric Bolling played for the congressman a clip from a C-SPAN interview last week, in which Associated Press reporter Richard Lardner provided examples of how COVID-19 relief funds were illegally distributed, including people using Social Security numbers for deceased individuals and federal prisoners claiming benefits in multiple states using Social Security numbers.
“It’s a disgrace,” Buck said. “It’s up to Congress. The power of the purse resides in Congress, and Congress needs to take action and do its job with oversight.
“These agencies shouldn’t be getting nearly as much money as they are,” he added. “And the real disgrace of it is they use this money in a partisan way to help their friends and then keep themselves in office. That is not how our political system should work.”
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