The Senate’s top waste-hawk is calling out the entire government as one great big waste machine, where, across the spectrum, government employees were paid to do nothing this year.
In his annual collection of the top waste items, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn cites the 113th Congress’ distinction as the least productive Congress in history “more notable for what it do not do than what it did,” and the 16 day government shutdown which the White House estimated cost $2 billion in back pay to furloughed federal employees as 2013′s number one waste item.
“[I]t is not the fault of these civil servants that Congress did not do its job and, like everyone else, they have bills to pay,” Coburn writes in his fourth annual “Wastebook.” “But it is truly unfair to charge billions of dollars to pay others not to work to taxpayers working to cover their own bills and the bills of the government. This is especially true when the non-essential federal employee is being compensated more than twice the average U.S. income.”
In what has become a tradition for Coburn, this year’s “Wastebook” highlights 100 instances of spending spanning 177 pages that the senator views as especially egregious.
This year the waste detailed in his list, according to the senator, totaled more than $30 billion.
“Collectively these cost more than $30 billion in a year when Washington would have you believe everything that could be done has been done to control unnecessary spending,” Coburn explains. “Had just these 100 been eliminated, the sequester amount would have been reduced nearly a third without any noticeable disruption.”
Coburn is set to unveil his final list Tuesday morning — from a $251,525 National Science Foundation grant to study attitudes about the filibuster, to $1.9 million spent offering life advice to Senate staffers, millions lost due to Department of Homeland of Homeland Security employee overtime fraud, and millions more spent on a HealthCare.gov site that did not work — the list is extensive and expensive.
Some highlights from this year’s report include:
- A $325,525 National Institutes for Health study, which found marriages, are happiest when “the wives were able to calm down quickly during marital conflict.”
- $52,952 paid to Fort Hood Shooter in 2013. Since the shooting, which killed 13 and injured 32, Major Nidal Hassan has received more than $278,000 in military benefits.
- A $9 million Amy reality TV show aimed at attracting recruits called “Starting Strong.” According “Wastebook,” the show was a flop.
- $65 million Hurricane Sandy funds spent on tourism advertising.
- $1.5 billion spent on maintaining government buildings that the government “no longer needs.”
-A $200,000 USDA grant to an Oklahoma winery, as more than 637,000 Oklahomans has their food assistance cut.
- $566,000 U.S. Postal Service spent on a futurist to divine the future of stamps.
- An FBI unit — the Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit — to assist Hollywood with authenticity a $1.5 million annual budget.
- A National Science Foundation grant to study reproduction in ducks, specifically the unusualness of the duck penis.