The Campaign Spot

On Fighting Stimulus Fraud, the Bar Keeps Getting Lower

President Obama made some pretty clear promises about whether any stimulus money would be wasted or used for fraudulent purposes: “We’re going to have to make sure that every single dollar is well spent. If we see money being misspent, we’re going to put a stop to it, and we will call it out and we will publicize it.”

Got that? Every single dollar.

Except, shortly thereafter, despite claims that “nobody messes with Joe,” the vice president said that fraudsters were messing with him and the stimulus already, and that there wasn’t much he could do about it. “”We know some of this money is going to be wasted . . . There are going to be mistakes made . . . Some people are being scammed already.”

It was an ominous sign when the chair of the Transparency and Accountability Board declared some waste, fraud, and abuse was “inevitable.”

And then the FBI seemed to suggest that there was going to be a lot of fraud: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is braced for a potential crime wave involving fraud and corruption related to bank bailout money and the economic stimulus package, FBI director Robert Mueller warned Tuesday.”

And now analysts are suggesting that maybe 10 percent could end up being diverted to fraud: “Swindlers, con men and thieves could siphon off as much as $1 out of every $10 spent as billions of dollars in stimulus money begin flowing into all corners of the economy in coming months.”

So somehow we’ve gone from “every single dollar” being properly used to . . . eh, maybe 90 percent.

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