The Daytona Beach by Sal Nuzzo
September 10, 2020
After negotiations stalled before Congress packed up for its August recess, Washington is now ready to resume discussing the terms for the nation’s next coronavirus relief package. With unemployment in Florida recently rising to 11.3-percent and small businesses around the state feeling the stress, it might seem that the new bill cannot come a moment too soon. However, a lot is at stake for this fifth and likely final relief package. Providing effective relief is far more important than providing it fast.
When Congress first began deliberating COVID assistance in early April, the James Madison Institute joined a coalition of 30 other public policy advocacy organizations in calling for accountability within the legislative branch’s COVID relief package. We asked Congress to remain guided by some good governance principles, including emphasizing meaningful transparency, avoiding the temptation of creating special and crony benefits, and accounting for all COVID-related spending. Unfortunately, these principles largely went ignored.
The lack of transparency in the last relief packages has caused far too many dollars meant for needy Sunshine State residents to fall into the wrong hands. Recently, one Florida resident illegally used hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program to purchase a Lamborghini, according to news reports. In early August, the Department of Justice also charged nine Floridians for conspiring to take part in a $24 million COVID-19 relief fraud scheme. And these are just the individuals have been caught. There’s no telling how many others have gamed the system without consequence at the expense of Florida’s most vulnerable and in need.