Where did Democrats’ $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief spending go? According to a new Associated Press investigation, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars went to a new luxury hotel and spa, ski slopes, renovations to the New York Yankees’ stadium, and numerous other non-coronavirus-related spending projects.
These expenditures were funded by the $350 billion in state and local relief passed by Democrats within the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
This report comes as Democrats are pushing for another round of COVID-19 supplemental funding.
AP notes several egregious uses of pandemic funds. The money went to a high-end hotel, toward renovating a baseball stadium, and paying off the debts of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. As the report notes:
Thanks to a sudden $140 million cash infusion, officials in Broward County, Florida, recently broke ground on a high-end hotel that will have views of the Atlantic Ocean and an 11,000-square-foot spa.
In New York, Dutchess County pledged $12 million for renovations of a minor league baseball stadium to meet requirements the New York Yankees set for their farm teams.
And in Massachusetts, lawmakers delivered $5 million to pay off debts of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston, a nonprofit established to honor the late senator that has struggled financially.
The three distinctly different outlays have one thing in common: Each is among the dozens of projects that state and local governments across the United States are funding with federal coronavirus relief money despite having little to do with combating the pandemic, a review by The Associated Press has found.
None of these expenditures did anything to help combat the pandemic. However, these are not the only projects unrelated to fighting the pandemic. Other examples of spending projects include:
- $400 million to build new prisons in Alabama, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the total aid the state will receive through the program.
- Tens of millions of dollars for tourism marketing campaigns in Puerto Rico ($70 million), Washington, D.C. ($8 million) and Tucson, Arizona ($2 million). The city of Alexandria, Virginia, also announced it would spend $120,000 to give its tourism website a makeover.
- $6.6 million to replace irrigation systems at two golf courses in Colorado Springs.
- $5 million approved by Birmingham, Alabama, to support the 2022 World Games. The event features niche sporting contests such as DanceSport, korfball and flying disc.
- $2.5 million to hire new parking enforcement officers in Washington, D.C.
- $2 million to help Pottawattamie County, Iowa, purchase a privately owned ski area.
- $1 million to pay off overdue child support in St. Louis. A city memo states that owing child support stops some people from looking for work because the overdue payments are garnished from paychecks; the program would “empower individuals” by paying down a portion.
- $300,000 to establish a museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, honoring Major Taylor, a famed Black bicycle rider from the turn of the 20th century known as the “Worcester Whirlwind” who died in 1932.
- New Jersey allocated $15 million for upgrades to sweeten the state’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
- In Woonsocket, Rhode Island, officials allocated $53,000 for a remodeling of City Hall.
The $350 billion state and local slush fund is not the only case of wasteful COVID spending. As the Heritage Foundation notes, 40 percent of pandemic unemployment benefits, or $357 billion, went to people who weren’t actually unemployed.
As a result, the federal government’s improper payments rate surged from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 7.1 percent in 2021.
The Left has exploited COVID-19 to pass trillions in wasteful, unneeded spending. In 2020, the U.S. government spent over $6 trillion and in 2021, the U.S. spent $6.82 trillion, or 30 percent of the economy. As of January of this year, $811 billion of COVID spending has still not been spent or even allocated.
Despite this, Democrats are asking for more COVID supplemental funding. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci recently asked Democrats to pass another $15 billion in funds to fight the virus domestically and abroad, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested passing a bill with $22.5 billion in new funding.
Americans have been forced to fund this wasteful, out-of-control government spending for years through their taxes and, now, through rampant inflation. Such shameless misuse of relief funds demonstrates that the federal government is incapable of being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and, certainly, should not be given more of it to waste.