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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced yesterday he was removing the independent head of the federal watchdog panel charged with overseeing disbursement of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act funds, less than two weeks after Congress passed the stimulus bill to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The role was not supposed to be filled by a presidential appointment, and the president’s actions call into question how independent the watchdog panel will be.
In response, U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget advocate R.J. Cross released the following statement:
“President Trump’s decision to remove the independent watchdog responsible for protecting trillions of taxpayer dollars suggests bad faith. Congress just created the largest stimulus package in U.S. history; that kind of money requires unassailable oversight to insure that all spending benefits the public interest -- and no other interest.
Officials acting in good faith on behalf of the people do not eliminate oversight -- on the contrary, they invite it. In a moment when our country needs to come together, the president is creating doubt and distrust.
Over the last weeks, many special interests lobbied for bailouts -- and Congress specifically excluded some of them from public funding. We must have assurances that the person in charge of the biggest stimulus package ever won’t subvert Congress’ intention by doling out funds to those very entities.
To deny the public independent oversight is to deny us the ability to keep tabs on our own government.
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