A Republican senator on Monday released a 145-page report revealing examples of wasteful government spending. And tucked inside the so-called “wastebook” are two pages on how the federal government is giving GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump a $40 million tax credit to turn an old Washington, D.C. building into a fancy new hotel.
The section about the Trump Organization’s Old Post Office renovation is included in Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball” report, unveiled Monday during a Capitol press conference.
“While the lucky guests of this palatial hotel will be awestruck by its glitz and glamour, taxpayers are unlikely to be amused that they helped foot the bill through a $40 million tax credit thanks to the National Historic Tax Credit,” Lankford writes in the report.
Lankford explains in the report that some “companies renovating old and historic buildings might qualify for federal funding or tax credits for the repairs.” The Trump Organization was selected to develop the Old Post Office, just down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in Washington, in 2013, the report notes, and is investing $200 million of its own money in addition to the tax credit.
“The taxpayer-funded partnership to subsidize the development of old buildings is made possible by the National Historic Tax Credit,” Lankford writes. “The credit allows an investor to claim 20 percent of rehabilitation costs for certified historic structures (or structures in historic districts) and ten percent of rehabilitation costs for buildings built prior to 1936.”
The report adds: “The taxpayer-supported hotel will feature ‘272 richly furnished guest-rooms…with lofty 16-foot ceilings, soaring windows, beautifully restored historic millwork, and glittering crystal sconces and chandeliers.’ One of the two presidential suites will be 5,000 square feet—twice the average size of an American family home. Each of the suites will include ‘original fireplaces, wood doors and moldings, and offer unique amenities such as separate dining room with pantry and service entry, his-and-her walk-in closets, private sauna and steam room, two-person shower, and VIP direct-elevator access.’ Hotel guests will also be able to enjoy a 5,000- square-foot super luxury spa and state-of-the- art fitness center.'”
Lankford’s report says it is time to eliminate this tax credit.
“The National Historic Tax Credit is duplicative, untargeted, costly, and distortive,” he says. “The credit also costs about $1 billion per year in lost revenue.”
“Eliminating the tax break would not prevent states and localities from implementing, maintaining, or expanding their own historic preservation programs,” the report adds. “Eliminating the tax credit would also not lead to the collapse of iconic historic structures that have long been protected and preserved by the federal government.”
“Instead its elimination will prevent the federal government from doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to luxury vacation destinations, major league baseball teams, and practically any other renovation project in a building that is included in the not-so- selective list of more than one million buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.”
The Daily Caller has reached out to a Trump campaign spokesman for comment.
Lankford released the wastebook report to continue a tradition started by his predecessor, former Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn.
The senator said he would like federal legislation to make more information available to the public about how federal agencies spend taxpayer money.
“In January, I introduced the Taxpayer’s Right to Know Act, which creates a central database for the financial data of every federal program in all federal agencies and departments,” Lankford said. “Agencies and departments would be required to develop performance metrics for all of their programs and provide a yearly report card. This centralized database would provide an accessible source for everyone to see how our federal government spends money and how effectively that money is used.”
Added Lankford: “I present this report as a demonstration of ways we can cut back on wasteful federal spending and burdensome regulations to help families, small businesses, and our economy begin to get out from under the weight of federal stagnation.”