Yet Another Inspector General Bites the Dust

Glenn Fine in a 2007 file photo.Mark Murrmann/ZUMA

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Large corporations were the recipients of $500 billion in the coronavirus rescue bill. However, only about $50 billion of this is for actual loans. The other $450 billion comes in the form of loan guarantees: that is, it’s a capital cushion earmarked to pay for potential losses in lending facilities from the Fed. Roughly speaking, then, the bill really authorizes about $4.5 trillion in loans under the assumption that $450 billion represents the maximum loss the Fed is likely to suffer.

By any measure, $4.5 trillion is a whole lot of money, and it was the last sticking point in the rescue bill. Initially Trump said that he himself would provide all the oversight that was needed, but unsurprisingly that didn’t go down well with Democrats. The bill was passed only after Donald Trump finally agreed to appoint a special inspector in the Treasury Department to provide oversight. But as soon as the ink was dry, he appointed Brian Miller, a White House lawyer, for the job. This was not an auspicious start.

Now there’s more:

President Donald Trump has upended the panel of federal watchdogs overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus law, tapping a replacement for the Pentagon official who was supposed to lead the effort. A panel of inspectors general had named Glenn Fine — the acting Pentagon watchdog — to lead the group charged with monitoring the coronavirus relief effort. But Trump on Monday removed Fine from his post, instead naming the EPA inspector general to serve as the temporary Pentagon watchdog in addition to his other responsibilities.

At least we still have the House oversight committee, formed by Nancy Pelosi and headed by Jim Clyburn. Unless, of course, Trump simply refuses to allow anyone in his admistration to respond to its subpoenas. But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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