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SGV Tribune

Hey, big spenders — oversight is needed

The nation stands a good chance of not only setting records for the size of its relief packages — but for the size of misuse and corruption rip-offs as well.

It’s extraordinary — and for the fiscal long run, more than a little unsettling — how quickly American politicians across the political spectrum have come together to provide massive financial relief packages for individuals and businesses during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

But since, whatever the future consequences, these trillions in dollars in payouts to compensate for the virtual shutdown of sectors of the economy have been made, with no doubt more to come, shouldn’t the federal government at least be providing rigorous oversight of its largesse?

If such is not the case, the nation stands a good chance of not only setting records for the size of its relief packages — but for the size of misuse and corruption rip-offs as well.

With so much money floating around, that’s just human nature. The same as scammers abound in the suddenly frantic medical-mask market — with many online sellers disappearing once payment is received — so both Wall Street and Main Street recipients of federal funds need to be monitored to root out crooks.

The need for independent oversight of the $2 trillion and counting in coronavirus relief bills passed by Congress and signed by President Trump shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But with Congress in recess while many of its members shelter in place — and with an election coming in November — sadly, partisanship has raised its head.

Partly, perhaps, it’s congressional jealousy that the executive branch is still in Washington calling the shots while its own members are in recess. But Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, is entirely correct to say that oversight needs to start immediately, before the inevitable scamming begins.

“Because that $500 billion (for large corporations) has not yet been scooped out by Treasury and delivered to industry, we have the ability to do oversight in real time,” Porter told the Los Angeles Times last week.

The Trump administration has resisted calls for congressional oversight, saying it alone can handle the job. That’s not how government works. House and Senate members can do little about the situation now. But next month, Congress will be back in session. The White House can get ahead of the inevitable by agreeing to work with Congress now.