WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren lambasted what they called the Trump administration’s weak oversight of trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief spending in an op-ed published on Sunday.
The Democrats laid out what they termed the administration’s failings and how Biden, as president, would strengthen supervision of the funds being spent to prop up the U.S. economy.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Warren, a former 2020 contender who’s seen as a possible vice presidential pick, said Trump has ignored the law requiring oversight of the stimulus funds. They also criticized him for firing an inspector general responsible for independently overseeing the spending.
“Both of us have served in Congress overseeing the executive branch,” they wrote in the piece for McClatchy-owned newspapers. “We have also both served in the executive branch and answered to independent oversight. Take it from us: Oversight is vital to an effective democracy and a fair economy, and it’s a threat only if you have something to hide.”
Biden oversaw the Recovery Act after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, and called for robust oversight of the government’s spending; Warren at that time led the oversight panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Both said their experiences with oversight stand in stark contrast to Trump’s approach.
“Trump seems to think he can direct funding for the response to this crisis based on which politicians are nice to him, which states he’s trying to win in November, and which businesses he wants to enrich — all without any accountability. We have a different view,” they wrote.
However, some of the current oversight efforts have been delayed in part because Congressional leaders of both parties haven’t chosen all the members to oversee the boards, including the commission overseeing the Treasury and Federal Reserves’ use of $500 billion in stimulus money.
They also wrote that if Biden is elected he would appoint an inspector general to review all coronavirus relief transactions in order to root out waste and corruption, and refer suspicious transactions to the Justice Department.
“Every Trump administration official and business executive contemplating such deals should hear us loud and clear,” they wrote. “Trump may wink and nod at this corruption. We will not.”
Warren and Biden also renewed calls for broader reforms to Washington to end corruption, a signature plank of Warren’s presidential campaign.
As the government spends trillions of dollars, they write it’s critical to avoid conflicts of interest, to close lobbying loopholes, and to make the practice more transparent and strengthen oversight programs and protect whistle-blowers.
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