The Trump administration unceremoniously announced it would ignore the law requiring transparency for $511 billion in tax-payer backed loans awarded to 4.5 million businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES coronavirus relief bill. Trump never intended to allow the public to see how he help bail out his rich billionaire cronies.
If you remember in March, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated a deal with Congress for congressional oversight of the spending in that bill, without which many congressional members including Republicans would not agree to it. But once the law was signed, the president issued an unconstitutional statement that the oversight provisions somehow violated the separation of powers.
There were supposed to be three bodies overseeing the $2 trillion law. The first was a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, and the second was the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, made up of inspectors general from the agencies involved in the bill. It was placed under the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which is sort of the oversight team of government inspectors general themselves. The third was a congressional oversight commission.
There is currently no SIGPR because Trump tried to appoint his own lawyer, Brian Miller. Trump’s removal of Glenn Fine as the acting Department of Defense IG meant that Fine, who had been selected as chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, had to step down. Fine, whose firing drew a rare rebuke from former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who called him “a public servant in the finest tradition of honest, competent governance,” resigned from the DOD entirely on June 1.
So the weight of oversight has fallen to the congressional committee, and the government had previously indicated it would release detailed loan information to it. But today, Mnuchin said that information about the loans, which infamously went to large businesses and wealthy organizations at first is “proprietary” and “confidential.” What BS. It is our taxpayer money being stolen.