Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn released his “Wastebook 2012” on Tuesday, which highlights over $18 billion in taxpayer money that the outspoken spending hawk says has been wasted by the government.
In his report, the senator singles out the current Congress as the “biggest waste of taxpayer money” for its potentially historic lack of productivity. Some committees rarely hold hearings, and Congress has passed just 61 bills to date. Twenty senators, Coburn notes, have yet to even introduce an amendment — all while allowing wasteful spending to continue unabated.
“Congress approved every cent spent to fund the projects outlined in this report and did nothing to stop any of these expenditures. In fact, in many cases member of Congress actually took credit for the projects with no shame,” the report reads. “All of the outrageous and wasteful contents of this report were made possible by either the action or lack of action of Congress, earning it the well-deserved but unwanted distinction as the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2012.”
The annual list of 100 of the most wasteful projects and redundancies includes everything from a $300,000 initiative to market caviar, $516,000 to create a video game simulating a high school prom night, a government funded study to find out if golfers perform better when they imagine a bigger hole, $947,000 spent on studying what food people could eat on Mars, and part of a $325,000 grant spent on a robotic squirrel.
Coburn also points out tax loopholes for professional sports that list themselves as non-profit organizations, pointing out that that status affords the NFL, NHL, and PGA receive $89.9 million in de facto government subsidies. The report also delves into the mismanagement of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or food stamps — which has resulted in $4.5 billion spent on things like Starbucks, alcohol, guns, and junk food.
The report puts the professional sports loophole in second place for the second biggest waste of taxpayer funds, and food stamp misuse in third.
“The problem in Washington is politicians are very specific about what we should fund but not specific about what we should cut. As a result, we are chasing robotic squirrels and countless other low-priority projects over a fiscal cliff,” Coburn said in a statement.
The senator added that with projects like the ones detailed in the report finding items to cut in the budget should not have to result in the elimination of valid government expenditures.
“This report also exposes the folly of across-the-board-cuts or sequestration. There is no question we can find hundreds of billion dollars of waste in our budget,” Coburn said. “Yet, by not going through the budget line by line and setting priorities we are protecting ridiculous programs like caviar promotion and climate change musicals while cutting vital programs. Until Congress has the guts to cut specific programs we will never get our debt under control. As these examples illustrate, it is not nearly as hard to make those choices as many politicians claim.”