Donald Trump’s incompetence, a hallmark of his failed presidency, is a double-edged sword. Occasionally, it serves to impede his evil plans, such as when the Supreme Court last week shut down his administration’s “arbitrary and capricious” attempt to rescind the DACA program. Unfortunately, however, Trump’s incompetence more often leads to costly and even dire results.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent watchdog agency that looks for ways the federal government can operate more cost-effectively, released a report Thursday examining the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Suffice it to say, the GAO could have used a bright red rubber stamp that reads “FUBAR.”
The GAO reported that the IRS and the Treasury Department made 160.4 million stimulus payments worth $269.3 billion to taxpayers by the end of May. However, as of April 30, almost $1.1 million payments totaling close to a whopping $1.4 billion were issued to deceased Americans. The GAO noted that, for some reason, the IRS failed to follow its usual practice of consulting the Social Security Administration’s death records before issuing the payments. As a result, the GAO is now advising the IRS to figure out some way to get all the money back. (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s toothless statement to the Wall Street Journal in April that “heirs should be returning that money” apparently didn’t do the trick.)
In another part of the report, the GAO highlighted serious problems with the CDC’s reporting of COVID-19 testing data. For example, beginning in May, the CDC began lumping together viral testing data with antibody testing data. Although the CDC later claimed to be taking steps to ensure that each type of testing data would be presented separately, the GAO still found problems. This inexcusable failure has made it “more difficult” to track infection rates, prevent further spread, and reach informed decisions about reopening the country, the report warned.
Engineering a careful response to a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic is no easy feat, and there are many qualified individuals in government right now who are more than up to the task. But with Trump and his inept lackeys at the steering wheel, there’s a grimy filter to the process that hastens COVID-19’s spread while hemorrhaging taxpayer money. The year 2020 must finally spell the end of Trump’s deadly kakistocracy.