New report highlights wasteful spending from Congress

Wastebook

It may not sound like a lot of money when compared to the $1 trillion budget deficit this year, but a new report released today by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) indentifies 100 projects representing $18.9 billion in wasteful spending approved by Congress in the last fiscal year, the National Journal reports:

As part of an annual “Wastebook” he released [Tuesday], the Oklahoma Republican identified 100 government-backed projects, including a $300,000 effort to promote caviar consumption, that he says highlight the spend-happy nature of Congress at a time Americans are “struggling just to put the basics on the family dinner table.” Combined, the projects total $18.9 billion in what Coburn sees as excess spending.

“How many nutritious school lunches could have been served with the $1.8 million in financial assistance provided to cupcake specialty shops?,” Coburn asks in a letter at the start of the report.

The report derides initiatives from all branches of government, including some increased food stamp benefits for recipients that use medical marijuana, a NASA program designed to research proper food and drink for an unscheduled future mission to Mars and a $32,000 project to recreate a historic street out of Legos.

Coburn also calls out his colleagues for failing to address enough legislation, citing the statistic that they are on track to be the least productive legislature in history. The cost of their inactivity? $132 million, according to the report.

“Many high school student councils have been more deliberative than the U.S. Senate,” the report reads.

This are some of the more egregious examples of wasteful spending, but nonetheless highlight how Congress spends Americans’ money and the debt financed on the backs of the next generation:

• Tax loopholes for the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) – professional sports leagues that generate billions of dollars annually in profits ($91 million in taxes)

• Moroccan pottery classes (part of a $27 million grant from U.S. Agency for International Development)

• Efforts to promote caviar consumption and production ($300,000)

• Robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel” (part of a $325,000 grant from the National Science Foundation)

• Promotion of specialty shampoo and other beauty products for cats and dogs ($505,000)

• Corporate welfare for the world’s largest snack food producer, PepsiCo Inc. ($1.3 million)

• Government-funded study on how golfers might benefit from using their imagination, envisioning the hole is bigger than it actually is ($350,000)

• “Prom Week,” a video game that allows taxpayers to relive prom night ($516,000)

• Oklahoma’s layover boondoggle, a scarcely used airport in Oklahoma receiving nearly half-a-million in taxpayer dollars only to transfer funds elsewhere in the state ($450,000)

• The 2012 Alabama Watermelon Queen tour paid for in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “to promote the consumption of Alabama’s watermelon through appearances of the Alabama Watermelon Queen at various events and locations” ($25,000)

 

A press release this morning from GOProud also noted that the National Science Foundation spent $30,000 — again, this is taxpayer money — on “gaydar” research conducted by the University of Washington and Cornell University.

Are these projects consistent with a responsible government? Are they in line with the view of a proper, limited government? The answer is clearly “no,” but sadly Congress has an addiction to spending and many members want to cut this sort of spending for someone else, but not themselves.

You can read the full report here.


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