U.S. Senator Tom Coburn has just released his annual “Wastebook” which outlines 100 examples of federal government spending totaling $30 billion he calls wasteful. Few on Capitol Hill actually bother to go through the entire federal budget line-by-line to find and summarize these expenditures that Congress has funded. Some of them are ridiculous, and some are silly.
Just a few of the expenditures include:
$125,000 grant to a mechanical engineer to try and build a 3-D pizza printer as part of supplies for future space-exploration. Scientists say it could take years before this becomes feasible.
$285,000 for a Rock ‘n Roll junket which funded 12 music label executives and one government official to travel to Rio to promote music in foreign markets.
$914,000 for analyzing “Twilight” and the pop song “Call Me Maybe” among the other activities of the Popular Romance Project funded since 2010. The Project is expanding its website and provides research into romance and its presence in popular culture, including the study of romance novels.
While some may find interesting fodder in some of these expenditures, when our nation is faced with a $17 trillion debt and a $600 billion budget deficit, it’s a travesty to borrow money for such projects, especially when so many Americans who are willing to work can’t find jobs and their unemployment benefits are running out.
The non-partisan reform group, No Labels, which I’ve been involved with since its inception, has suggested a number of common-sense ideas to save taxpayers money and make government more efficient. The ideas include cutting 50 percent of government agency travel and replacing it with video conferencing, getting rid of duplicate agencies and programs identified in 2013 by the Government Accountability Office, and forcing separate divisions within a single federal agency to not make independent contracts for common items.
The examples of government funding listed out by Senator Coburn, no matter how silly, aren’t really a laughing matter. Our elected officials must do better.
I hope you agree.