To bail out state entitlement programs. Biden’s rosy report can’t hide stimulus problems
The real news about the stimulus is buried inside the Biden report. It says that as of May 5, $88 billion has been “obligated” for spending. “Obligated” is federalese for money that has been committed but not yet spent. A much smaller number, $28.5 billion, has actually been shoved out the door — that is, $28.5 billion out of the stimulus total of $787 billion has so far been spent.
And where did it go? More than 95 percent has ended up in just two places: the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. The Human Services money was poured into a program called FMAP, or the Federal Medical Assistance Program, where it was given to the states to help pay their Medicaid bills. The Labor money has gone for extended unemployment insurance benefits.
The report also shows that Health and Human Services will distribute by far the biggest chunk of stimulus money over the next year. The money has gone to HHS because it is the easiest place to spend lots of cash fast. But all that Medicaid and social services money, much of which will be used by state governments to cover their own spending excesses, is considered among the least stimulative parts of the stimulus bill.
And yet the money was so urgently needed to get the economy going that Congressmen couldn’t even wait to read the bill before voting on it.