Compared with the immense size of the federal stimulus program, the actual number of fraud arrests so far has been microscopic, says the New York Times. Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the watchdog for stimulus money, said federal prosecutors were looking at only nine stimulus-related cases, including accusations of Social Security fraud and of businesses improperly claiming to be owned by women and members of minorities.
The small number of cases is partly a function of how much stimulus money has been spent so far, and how it has been spent. While more than $150 billion has been pumped into the economy, $62.6 billion of that was in the form of tax cuts. Of the rest, $38.4 billion was sent to states for fiscal relief; $30.6 billion was spent to help those affected by the recession by expanding unemployment benefits and other safety-net programs, and $16.5 billion was spent in areas like infrastructure, technology, and research. The biggest accusations of stimulus-related fraud so far have not involved the theft of public money but rather con artists fleecing gullible people and businesses hoping to profit from the stimulus.