As a rule of thumb, the faster the government tries to shovel out taxpayer money, the more it ends up helping swindlers buy cars and sunny vacations. The Covid pandemic was a 100-year event that required quick action, but the wild fraud in federal assistance programs deserves years of after-the-fact scrutiny.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) was in charge of the $814 billion Paycheck Protection Program, and a report last month from its inspector general is a bracing read. PPP provided forgivable loans to keep workers paid and businesses whole while the economy went into a government-ordered cryogenic freeze. To get the money into businesses quickly, local banks were authorized to approve PPP claims.