The Trump administration is the poster child of self-serving deals.
From giving tax breaks that benefit his own companies to appointing his family to top government posts when they are not qualified to spending $30 million for golf trips to his various properties, Trump is continuing the same scams and self-serving business deals that have victimized people he works with over his entire career.
In this article from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the group identifies 22 areas where Trump has a conflict-of-interest that would benefit him and his companies. According to the group, “these span the government, ranging from environmental regulations that impact Trump’s golf courses to work visas that allow his businesses to hire cheaper seasonal workers, to tax cuts that will likely save him millions and even major military decisions that protect his foreign businesses.”
But the worst is yet to come.
This is because the bailout is huge. The first phase alone, the $2.2 trillion, 880-page, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, injects more than $7 trillion into the economy. This is comprised of $2.2 trillion for direct checks to Americans, expanded unemployment benefits, money for health care, forgivable small business loans, and authorization for the Federal Reserve to invest more than $5 trillion into custom-made lending programs. Phase two would be a $600 billion program. The potential for fraud is vast, and given the amount of money being distributed, a 1% loss to fraud translates into a $72 billion in fraud, according to CNBC.
In the first COVID-related bailout designed to go to small businesses, there are now reports that publicly-traded corporations, including airlines and huge oil companies, have received federal money that was not intended for them.
Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), told ABC News that the Paycheck Protection Program will be “an extraordinarily easy program to defraud, and it will be defrauded in massive ways.”
Large corporations and small businesses that took the money know it is harder for the government to force them to return the money than it is for them to take it. Businesses know that the Trump clan and the Republicans have no stomach for white-collar law enforcement, including clawing back federal bailout money. Trump supporter Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) said the government moved quickly to distribute the money since it was needed by small businesses. “The more requirements we came up with, the harder it was going to be to get the money out the door. We erred on the side of expediency.”
That is a good cover story, but the Republican majority in the Senate is sitting on 395 pieces of legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that 395 bills sitting in the Senate are not going to be passed.
At the individual state level, many states, especially those with Republican legislatures, are way behind in processing unemployment claims. That includes Rubio’s home state of Florida.
While the legislation does contain provisions for oversight, Trump has already removed one Inspector General who he thought was too tough and replaced his with a loyalist. Trump has removed many critics of him and his policies since he took office, including the pandemic response team in 2018.
Anticipate More Fraud Than Ever
The emerging bailout fraud will surpass the fraud from the 2008 mortgage fraud bailout, which, until now, was the largest federal bailout in history. These bills are very complex, and contain many loopholes inserted by corporate lobbyists. To keep the loopholes and recipients secret, the Republicans inserted language which prevents the release of business identifications.
For instance, in the COVID bailout alone, The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wrote that “other provisions in the bill may benefit hotels and restaurants owned by the president. For example, President Trump’s Washington, DC hotel is believed to qualify for a small-business loan made available in the relief bill. A third part of it may lower his taxes, if he has continued to claim real estate losses on his returns. President Trump has claimed significant losses on his tax return in the past. The new policy rolls back limits on how much in real estate losses could be used to offset other income imposed by the 2017 tax bill.”
For the more complete list about Trump’s conflicts-of-interest and the potential for more fraud from the Trump family, see the site at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.