Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Worst Government Waste

This is another of our Guest series in which we publish unique commentaries of special interest to our readers; the authors have unique access and insight into issues from which most folks are excluded.

This post is from Senator Tom Coburn [R-OK], an MD who takes issue with such problems as graft, corruption, and wasteful spending. He is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and is a welcome successor to Senator Proxmire [D-WI] who monitored similar issues and presented his Golden Fleece Awards to the most egregious offenders during his Senate term from 1958 - 1982.

[That was a period in which our politicians were not defined necessarily by their Political Party, but more-so by their contributions [or lack thereof] to their country.

Wastebook 2013 highlights 100 examples of wasteful spending totaling nearly $30 Billion.
 Of course, that is only a fraction of the the total of about $200 Billion of federal funding diverted to fraud, waste, duplication, and mismanagement.

But, not to worry, to continue this abusive spending, both Houses of Congress are preparing to increase taxes and cut your benefits so that you'll have less disposable income. At the end of this post, there are links to Senator Coburn's comments on Defense and Tax waste and fraud.

"What's lacking is the common sense and courage in Washington to make those choices -- and the passage of fiscally responsible spending bills.  The hard truth is, we'd [Congress] much rather borrow than cut."

Here's a sampling of the unusual expenditures:

  • Uncle Sam Looks for Romance on the Web -- $914,000
The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 Million from the National Endowment of the Humanities [NEH] since 2010 to "explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective -- while looking as far back as the ancient Greeks."
[NOTE: This is similar to the 1976 National Science Foundation's award of $84,000 to study "Why people fall in love".  Senator Proxmire gave it a Golden Fleece Award.]

  • Mass Destruction of Weapons - $7 Billion
As the US war effort in the Middle East winds down, the US Military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds of useable vehicles and other military equipment.  The Department of Defense decided simply to destroy more than $7 Billion worth of equipment than sell it or ship it home.

  • Dysfunctional ObamaCare website -- for an insurance plan few want  -- $900 Million
The contract to roll out the Affordable Care Act [ACA]enrollment website was let to a friend of Michelle Obama.   The website was three years in the making, yet, when it was opened to the public, only six [count them] SIX people could enroll.  After a month, the White House admitted that about only One Percent of those eligible had been able to enroll.

  • Government Study Finds that wives should calm down -- $325,000
This National Institute of Health [NIH] research determined that wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands.

  • Fort Hood shooter remained on the Army payroll while in jail for four years -- $278,000
Major Nadal Hasan continued to receive his monthly Army paycheck and full Military benefits after he was jailed for shooting 43 people at Fort Hood; 13 of his victims died.  DOD and DHS designated this event as an "act of workplace violence" rather than a "terrorist act" -- thus depriving the victims and their families coverage for medical expenses.

  • NASA Searches for signs of Intelligent Life, in Congress - $3 Million
NASA authorized $3 million to research how Congress works

  • Hurricane Sandy "Emergency" Funds spent on TV Ads - $65 Million
In January, 2013, Congress passed a bill to provide $60.4 billion for the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  However, instead of rushing aid to the people who needed it most, state officials in New York and New Jersey spent the money on tourism-related TV advertisements.  A large percentage of the families devastated by the hurricane have yet to receive a dime in federal funds.

[NOTE:  The Sandy Relief Bill included $150 million for Alaskan fisheries, $2 million for repairs to the Smithsonian Museum roof (in Washington DC), $8 million to DHS and DOJ to buy new cars, and $17 Billion to Community Development Block Grants -- unrelated to Hurricane Sandy.]

  • Federally Funded Solar Panels covered at Manchester-Boston Airport - $3.5 Million
Solar panels installed on the roof of the airport's parking garage, at considerable expense, were covered with a tarp once the air traffic controllers determined that the panels created a glare making it difficult for them to monitor the runways.  So much for prior planning.

  • Brains, Brains, We need Brains - $150,000
The National Science Foundation funded a North Carolina company to develop a math learning game based on the Zombie apocalypse.
[NOTE: It was uncertain if the games were designed for children or for Zombies]

  • NASA's Little Green Man =  $390,000
Now that NASA ended their space flight program, they've found a new program to fund; it's a YouTube TV show and cartoon series called "Green Ninja" in which a man, dressed in a Green Ninja costume, teaches kids about "Global Warming".
[NOTE:  The man is not Al Gore; and, no one has advised NASA that Global Warming is currently being displaced by record snow and ice storms]

If you'd like to dig into these, and other extraordinary expenditures, use the links below, furnished by Senator Coburn:

Defense-related waste: here.
Tax-related waste: here.