By: Sen. Joni Ernst and Adam Andrzejewski
As published in USA Today
Washington is borrowing money from China to give to China.
You read that right.
While we owe the communist country more than $800 billion, our government sent nearly $500 million to China to pay for everything from poetry projects to dangerous research on bats. And $870 million of U.S. tax dollars went to Russia. Those numbers could just be the tip of the iceberg.
The truth is, no one in Washington can account for the actual amount sent to these two adversarial nations – or anywhere else.
The federal government does not follow the trail of taxpayer dollars after the money leaves the Treasury to see where it ends up. This allows unaccountable intermediaries to act as pass-throughs, funneling money from your wallet into pointless projects without public scrutiny.
How does taxpayers’ money end up in Wuhan lab?
The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), for example, granted millions of dollars to the EcoHealth Alliance. That shady organization then shared the cash with China’s notorious state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology for the risky research on bat coronaviruses that many believe sparked the COVID-19 pandemic.
Questions about how much was steered into the Wuhan institute and how this benefits the United States continue to go unanswered.
A recent audit from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded it was impossible to determine the full dollar amount being sent anywhere in China because Washington wasn’t keeping track.
But at least we have some of the receipts.
Not only NASA hardware but also soft diplomacy, like cartoons and podcasts.
The auditors at OpenTheBooks.com teamed up with Sen. Joni Ernst’s investigators and tallied more than $1.3 billion paid to entities in China and Russia since 2017.
Here is what we found:
- More than $490 million from U.S. grants and contracts was paid to organizations in China.
- The National School Lunch Program, intended to provide balanced meals, encourage nutrition and support domestic farmers, handed $1.6 million to Chinese grain exporters.
- The State Department shelled out $58.7 million to entities in China, spending nearly $100,000 to support an exhibition of New Yorker cartoons by female artists “to increase awareness on gender equality and women’s empowerment” in the oppressive communist country. It spent $43,141 in Russia to support podcasts on “the topics of being queer, women in space, etc.” and $33,545 for podcasts about “people who survived a trauma, a unique experience, (or) did something extraordinary.”
- The Pentagon paid $6 million to a Chinese company for technical support on defense “deployment and distribution command” software, which provides for delivery of transportation, equipment and supplies anywhere our servicemen and women are positioned.
- NIH spent $298,000 in 2021 on ethics training for Chinese scientists. The reason? China was found woefully short on safety, integrity and honest reporting. Key problems included “research misconduct,” “inadequate ethical review,” “neglect for human subjects protections” and “publication fraud.”
- After winning the space race against the Soviets nearly 55 years ago, NASA became dependent on the Russians to get back into orbit. In 2005, the agency subsidized the Russian Space Agency with a $4.1 billion contract for joint human space flights. Since 2017, NASA has paid $770.8 million to Russia to support space exploration, rockets and technology.
- NIH sent more than $770,000 to a state-run lab in Russia to put cats on treadmills. That project – like the bat studies in Wuhan – was canceled after the studies were exposed by the White Coat Waste Project.
This is why it is essential that Americans know exactly how and where their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.
OpenTheBooks.com is committed to putting every dime the government spends online in real time to hold Washington accountable. To make that possible, Congress must pass the Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for Knowledge of Spending (TRACKS) Act that would require every penny of taxpayer money sent to institutions in China, Russia and other hostile nations to be accounted for and publicly disclosed.
We will continue following the trail of your tax dollars, no matter how treacherous, so we can stop silly spending in its tracks!