Paul Investigates Fraud Related to State of Emergency

( – President Joe Biden has been reluctant to end the current state of emergency that the White House believes gives it extraordinary powers over public policy. The current emergency declaration is set to end March 1, but Biden intends to extend it to May 1.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul and Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst are investigating the White House’s “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP). The program gave qualifying businesses and nonprofits what it called “cancelable loans,” which is just a different word for “gift” or “grant.” Most such “loans” did not need to be repaid.

The loans were offered to businesses suffering losses because of the pandemic, though critics point out it was politics, not a virus, that shuttered thousands of small businesses and put workers on government benefits for nearly two years.

Ernst and Paul sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration (SBA) asking for an accounting of the fraud within the PPP. The letter notes the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) released a statement January 30 stating that more than $5 billion in PPP money was given out to “fraudsters” who didn’t qualify for the grants.

The senators want a review of the nearly 70,000 “loans”, an accounting of what actions the SBA took in response, and details about how it issues automatic and manual checks.

The letter states that the PRAC reviewed 33 million PPP applications and found more than 220,000 used fraudulent social security numbers. Apparently nearly 70,000 fraudulent applications were approved, with the fraudsters receiving “loans” that totaled more than $5.4 billion, according to the PRAC. 

Last week, the Government Accountability Office stated that as much as $45 billion was spent on fraudulent unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic.

The GAO report says the federal government spent more than $878 billion on unemployment claims from April 2020 to September 2022. Of that amount, $45 billion went to invalid claims. 

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