Editorial: Massive COVID unemployment fraud

Column By Mike Bibb

It was bound to happen.  Probably expected.

With billions of government (your) dollars being thrown around during the COVID-19 calamity, it was only a matter of time before a bunch of it was ripped off – by a bunch of people.

Similar to many federal programs, there isn’t sufficient oversight or enforcement to prevent abuse, theft, and fraud.  

This is bad enough, but when that same government requests $22 billion more be added to the pot, then a responsible public servant – let’s say, the president – should immediately step forward and demand an explanation of where all the previous funds have disappeared to. 

Unfortunately, President Joe is probably not going to do that, even if he’s aware of the massive looting.  Besides, in his mind “The pandemic is over,” he reminded us during a CBS News “60 Minutes” interview, on Sept. 18, 2022.

A recently released Labor Department Inspector General’s report estimated over $45 billion in unemployment benefits fraud occurred during the past two years of the pandemic.

Some believe that figure isn’t close to the actual number.

Matt Weidinger of the American Enterprise Institute told the Wall Street Journal, on Sept. 22, 2022 “While these are shocking and huge, they fall far short of what we expect these numbers to be.” 

Conceivably, so much money has been stolen by various COVID scams that it will be exceedingly difficult – if not impossible – to determine where it has all gone.

By this time, millions and billions of dollars have been pirated into off-shore financial institutions, international banking cartels, crime syndicates, and other places with the ability to hide and launder large sums of cash, checks, and electronic money transfers.

Whenever piles of government money are available for the taking, you can be sure someone is going to figure out how to steal it.

Especially in the era of complex computerization.

The IG report explained, “The infusion of hundreds of billions of federal funds into the UI (Unemployment Insurance) program gave individuals and organized criminal groups a high-value target to exploit.  That, combined with easily attainable stolen personally identifiable information and continuing UI program weaknesses, allowed criminals to defraud the system.”

Apparently, the crooks snatched social security numbers from dead people, prison inmates, email accounts, and just about anyone they could take advantage of. 

Again, theft and corruption of this scale should have been anticipated, yet the IG report admits the Unemployment Insurance program suffered substantial “weaknesses” in preventing the crimes.

So, the logical question becomes, if the Labor Department was aware of the potential thievery of UI funds, then why didn’t they take steps to more thoroughly protect the program from criminal activity before releasing the checks? 

Now, they have the stones to ask for $22 billion more to hand out, at the same time we’re sending billions of dollars in aid and military equipment to Ukraine.

Can this administration do anything right?  I’m beginning to wonder.  They can’t seem to manage the nation’s basic financial affairs, secure the border, control inflation, handle inner-city crime or provide economic relief at the gas pumps.

In case you haven’t noticed, fuel prices are starting to rise again.

Yet, don’t dare complain or deduct an extra 17 cents on your income taxes because thousands of new IRS agents will be keeping their eyes on you.

If you’re really obnoxious, expect a visit from the FBI.  They may even shove guns in your face and confiscate your cell phone.  

Just ask the “My Pillow” guy.  His phone was snatched by a car full of FBI officers while waiting for his drive-thru order at a fast-food restaurant.  Not certain if they also took his burger and fries.

Reminiscent of an old Mafia visit – “Yo, Mike, da boss don’t like you makin’ fun of him.  He sent us ta deliver da message.  Give us yur phone and that Philly sandwich.  If we hav ta come back again, we won’t be so friendly.  Arrivederci, testa del cuscino” (pillow head).(sic) 

Good grief, this administration is so out of touch with reality it can’t even define the word.  This isn’t surprising, considering its leader often becomes disoriented when trying to exit a speaker’s podium.

With our national debt piling up to unprecedented heights and the treasury department printing money as rapidly as the presses can run, is it any wonder inflation is out of control and the economy is retracting to recession levels?

Is a full-blown depression next?

Wait, Joe says inflation has “Only gone up an inch.”

He’s equally positive nearly half the country is “semi-fascist,” or “Nazis,” as Hillary believes.

Not certain if a Nazi is an upgrade or slam from previous accusations of Trump supporters being a “basket of deplorables.”

Seems every week there’s a new disparaging comment by our “Great Uniter” president.  You remember, the same guy who promised on inauguration day to bring us together.

Well, like many things he’s vowed, that pledge hasn’t worked out. 

According to him, the nation is being overrun with “white supremacists,” “racists” and “MAGA” heathens.

This unbridled foolishness can only go on so long before serious economic and social complications begin setting in.

Actually, they’re already noticeable; a trip to the gas station, supermarket, and Joe’s tanking approval ratings will verify.  

Again, President Biden insists everything is cool – hallucinations coming from an aging, cognitively confused career politician who hasn’t missed a federal paycheck in 50 years.

No wonder he has no idea what’s going on outside the White House . . . 

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.