The co-sponsor of a bill to prevent unemployment fraud was charged with committing unemployment fraud.
On Tuesday, George Santos was indicted on 13 counts related to money laundering, wire fraud, lying to Congress, and theft of public funds. A day later, Republicans began voting on a bill to recoup Covid-19 unemployment benefits from fraudulent claimants. Santos was unable to participate, however, because he was busy being processed for his 13 counts, including fraudulently claiming $24,000 in Covid unemployment benefits while making a $120,000 salary.
The cherry on top is that Santos himself is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, the Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act.
When asked about the clear conflict, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise demurred.
“In regard to George Santos, he was already removed from all his committees,” Scalise said, in contrast to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s earlier suggestion that Santos himself elected to leave his committee assignments. “He’s going to have to go through the legal process. But we’re going to continue to work to root out fraud, and there’s lots of it: We’re talking about tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in fraud.”
Santos is also part of the Republican quest to hold the debt ceiling hostage to impose work requirements for Medicaid and SNAP benefits: again, a great irony given his own fraudulent use of government handouts.
The contradiction is run-of-the-mill from a conservative ideological movement (note: all Republicans, and some Democrats) that, in all senses, has carried out a “regulation for thee but not for me” regime.
On government handouts, the conservative movement has showered corporations—particularly those in special favor with it, like fossil fuel or railroad companies—with subsidies and rolled-back regulations.
On taxes, the rich have been able to evade taxes and secure wild tax breaks, while the poor pay disproportionately more for a society that treats them disproportionately worse. The majority of Americans pay for a system that only makes the gap between rich and poor even wider, and the cycle continues, entrenching it all further and further.
And on unemployment benefits, Republicans are now pursuing a bill that pretends to go after fraudsters while actually seeking to repeal federal funds approved by Democrats in 2021 that would empower the Labor Department to investigate fraud cases. All the while, one of their own co-sponsors appears guilty of the exact misdeed Republicans claim they’re attempting to address.
The contradictions are all backgrounded by a political movement that has complained about government spending and student debt relief while being among the largest recipients of emergency Covid PPP funding, or among the politicians—from Dianne Feinstein to Kelly Loeffler and Richard Burr—who have committed insider trading during the height of the pandemic.