NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wastebook 2013

December 20, 2013

Washington has reversed the wisdom of the old cliché that less is needed when less is wasted. Every branch of government bickered this year over the need to spend more (while continuing to misspend) with an attitude of "waste more, want more!" says Senator Tom Coburn.

Confronted with self-imposed budget cuts necessary to trim years of trillion dollar shortfalls,

Washington protested that it could not live within its means. Some of the most egregious examples?

  • The Department of Defense grounded the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels, yet still spent $432 million to construct aircraft they never intend to fly.
  • The Army National Guard spent $10 million on Superman movie tie-ins while plans were being made to cut the strength of the Guard by 8,000 soldiers
  • As the Smithsonian was closing exhibits at its world renowned museums, the federal government was funding the creation of "play zones" at the National Museum of Play, an inventory of toys at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, and a website celebrating romance novels.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cut housing assistance for the disabled elderly while subsidizing thousands of risky mortgages, including more than 100 homes (that cost in excess of half-a-million dollars each) within walking distance of the ocean in Hawaii.
  • And while nutrition assistance was being reduced for many needy families, USDA was spending money on celebrity chef cooks-offs and running up the taxpayer tab on Bloody Marys, sweet potato vodka and red wine tastings from here to China.
  • And just days before the impending government shutdown, when much of Washington was bracing for a protracted closure of most government offices and activities, USDA decided to celebrate Christmas early by funding six Christmas trees projects and -- in the spirit of holiday cheer -- 35 different wine initiatives, including the creation of two smart phone apps to help "navigate to the next winery."
  • The Department of Interior was counting sheep with high-tech unmanned aerial drones after delaying the opening of some national landmarks and closing others early.

These are only a few of the 100 examples of government mismanagement and stupidity included in Wastebook 2013. Collectively these cost nearly $30 billion in a year when Washington would have you believe everything that could be done has been done to control unnecessary spending. Had just these 100 been eliminated, the sequester amount would have been reduced nearly a third without any noticeable disruption.

Source: Senator Tom Coburn, "Wastebook," Office of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, December 2013.


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