The pandemic is over. So says President Joe Biden. That’s the best news Americans have heard in a long time, but they may be subject to a bout of skepticism. That’s because the president’s fellow Democrats are quick to say it isn’t so, and besides, they want more funding for remedying the disease. As the debate ensues over the meaning of “over,” the financial consequences of COVID-19, sadly, are to be suffered for years to come.
In a recent CBS “60 Minutes” interview, Mr. Biden proclaimed the dismal era’s closure that millions have longed to hear: “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over.”
If cheers rose over Washington, they were quickly stifled by lawmakers who have their hearts set on a fresh rounding of pandemic spending. “COVID is not over,” rebutted Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, the following day. “I don’t know what he meant — some people use ‘pandemic’ or ‘epidemic’ or other phrases. And he said that COVID isn’t over, the pandemic is over. But the way I look at it, COVID isn’t over.”
COVID-19 and its consequences represent a distinction without a difference. The president may have forgotten that his administration and party are seeking an additional $22 billion for vaccine development and COVID-19 testing. His unguarded statement undercuts the rationale for additional spending — especially with recurring reports of COVID-19 funding waste and fraud roiling the sensibilities of taxpayers.
The Labor Department inspector general announced last week that $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent unemployment insurance (IU) claims occurred during the pandemic. “Hundreds of billions in pandemic funds attracted fraudsters seeking to exploit the UI program — resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments,” Inspector General Larry Turner wrote in a statement. A 2021 estimate had put the fraud figure at about $16 billion.
Applications filed on behalf of dead people, ineligible prison inmates and people claiming to live in multiple states betray a breathtaking level of irresponsibility on the part of those who administer public funds. Other estimates of COVID-19 fraud range as high as $200 billion — the equivalent of a $600 tax charged to every man, woman and child in the United States.
Of course, Americans are frequently reminded that every dollar is backed “by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” Under Mr. Biden’s leadership, though, that government is folding, spindling and mutilating each dollar by printing trillions of new ones and dumping them into the economy. The ensuing inflationary spiral is pilfering the value of the U.S. currency by more than 8%, leaving taxpayers poorer.
While Americans continue to suffer from the deaths of more than a million of their fellow citizens, the pandemic’s impact is worsened by Mr. Biden’s foolish and wasteful overspending during the battle to defeat it. As baseball legend Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Although the president says the pandemic is over, its consequences are not.