New York Times Reports that 0.01 Percent of the Paycheck Protection Program was Fraudulently Spent

August 29, 2020

Yep, that’s its big story for the day, although people probably saw the number $62 million in the headline. The program spent a total of $525 billion to keep small businesses alive and workers being paid in the period where the economy was largely shutdown. It was a rushed program that was completely improvised, since nothing had ever been done like this before.

It was inevitable that there would be some fraud, since the safeguards were obviously far from perfect. In fact, we can be sure that the $62 million uncovered by the Justice Department to date is just the tip of the iceberg. However, rather than implying to readers that this figure is evidence of widespread fraud, it actually is the opposite. It is a very small amount of fraud given the size of the program and the rush to get money out the door. Even if the final tally for fraud ends up being one hundred times this amount, it would be pretty good for a huge program  that was put together from scratch.


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