By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden rolled out his proposed budget last week, which included trillions of dollars in new federal spending and tax hikes. A closer look at recent spending, though, shows that the federal government’s wasteful projects have piled up.
One of the most costly losses for taxpayers came through pandemic relief unemployment spending, with some estimating that nearly 25% of it was lost to waste and fraud.
Larry Turner, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Labor, told Congress last month that nearly $200 billion out of $900 billion in total federal and state unemployment insurance benefits given out during the pandemic could have been improper payments, much of which was due to fraud.
Several federal spending projects have fallen into political controversy.
For example, some COVID relief funds were used by states to push critical race theory and hire “equity warriors” at schools. Republicans on the House Oversight and Education committees launched an investigation into the matter last fall.
“For example, California used ESSER funds for training in ‘environmental literacy,’ ‘ethnic studies,’ and ‘LGBTQ+ cultural competency,’” the lawmakers said in a letter to the Department of Education. “New York used part of the $9 billion it received to provide staff development on ‘culturally responsive sustaining instruction’ and ‘privilege’ and to recognize ‘equity warriors.’ Illinois received $5.1 billion, which it partially used to emphasize ‘equity and diversity’ and make ‘equity driven investments.’ At least ten other state plans included proposals to use the ESSER funds to implement racially biased curriculum and programs based on Critical Race Theory.”
“Based on recent reports, the Department of Education is allowing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and related COVID relief funds to pay for racially biased and other progressive leftist programs,” the letter added.
The Informing America Foundation compiled controversial spending projects in a recent report, including $1.1 billion in taxpayer dollars to help illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and half a million dollars from the American Rescue Plan to “hire a public relations firm to woo influencers and bloggers to a town.”
“The federal government spends $1.7 billion annually to maintain 770,000 empty buildings,” the report said. “The government maintains these empty buildings as agencies lease or buy new space. The Government Accountability Office claimed the government holds more property than it needs and uses unreliable data for property management decisions.”
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., regularly releases his waste report. His latest documented a string of examples, including $200,000 spent by the Department of Defense on Starbucks espresso machines.
In another controversial project, The Center Square uncovered federal grant documents from the Department of Education that showed the federal agency has awarded millions of dollars to a program that trains future educators in critical race theory.
“Critical Race Theory is inherently bigoted and it is a lie,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in response to news about the grant funding. “The federal government should not be funding the training for a Marxist ideology that teaches people to hate America. That’s why I introduced legislation earlier this year to block federal funding for CRT.” Another grant awarded $1.2 million to researchers to find evidence that racism is to blame for poor sleep in minority communities.