Ridgway Record

As Biden rolls out budget, government waste piles up

- By Casey Harper

(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.

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