Criminal fraud in pandemic unemployment programs has left taxpayers on the hook for $163 billion (and counting).
It’s time to get that money back, which is why Republicans have a new bill to empower states to recover the lost money, the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial. The Chase Covid Unemployment Fraud Act of 2022, introduced by Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Republican leaders, jumpstarts efforts to investigate and pursue recovery of federal funds lost to fraud by criminals who exploited a national crisis.
CLICK HERE to read the full editorial.
- “GOP members of the House Ways and Means Committee introduced a bill this month to track the flow of wasted funds and fix the practices that enabled leakage.”
- “Citing the Labor Department, they say at least $163 billion of the $873 billion spent on unemployment insurance was spent in error, including ‘a significant portion attributable to fraud.’ Only about $4 billion has been recovered.”
- “Plenty of waste and theft can be chalked up to the fog of war that surrounded Covid’s early days. But Congressional Republicans also note how the unprecedented increase in the size of unemployment awards encouraged the criminal rush.”
- “‘Generous $600 weekly federal supplements made unemployment a lucrative target for fraudsters,’ says Rep. Kevin Brady. The same bonus payments that discouraged workers from returning to work also made an irresistible mark for scammers.”
Republicans Are Fighting Against Unchecked Unemployment Fraud and Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars.
- In June 2022, Republican Leaders introduced the Chase COVID Unemployment Fraud Act of 2022 (H.R. 8000) to gain restitution for taxpayers by going after criminal actors and recovering billions lost to fraud.
- Last year, Rep. Brady, along with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and top Republican leaders, introduced the Combatting COVID Unemployment Fraud Act of 2021 (H.R. 3268) to prevent fraud in COVID unemployment programs, recover fraudulently paid benefits, and provide relief for taxpayers and victims of unemployment fraud.
- Ways and Means Republicans, led by Republican Leader of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), have held two public meetings with industry experts to raise awareness and offer safeguards for taxpayers. Watch those meetings here and here.
The Biden Administration Has No Idea Exactly How Many Tax Dollars Have Been Stolen or Improperly Paid.
- In February 2022, the White House estimated that 19 percent of total COVID unemployment insurance payments were lost to fraud – offering a low estimate of over $80 billion.
- By contrast, the Department of Labor’s estimate puts that number much higher. Outside experts say the number could be as high as $400 billion.
- In May 2022, The Washington Post reported that an estimated $163 billion were siphoned away by fraudsters, and that if the government’s best estimate is accurate, only 2.4 percent of wrongful payments have been recovered.
- Recent reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) put unemployment programs on the agency’s “high risk” list, even as the Biden Administration issued guidance to make it easier for states to sweep fraudulent payments under the rug.