Maintaining the legacy of retired, and greatly missed, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released what his office is calling the first in a series of reports on “wasteful, duplicative, and inefficient government spending.”
“America’s Most Wasted” details $294 billion in funding on expired federal programs and $1.1 billion in wasteful spending. According to the press release, the wasteful projects list included:
- $50,000 for the Army to research the bomb-detecting capabilities of elephants
- $30,000 for puppet shows in Vermont
- $225.3 million in Social Security overpayments
- $49 million of National Guard spending on pro sports advertising – instead of training and equipping the armed forces
- $753 million and 10 years to renovate a building for Members of Congress
- $14 million for duplicative Catfish Inspection Office
- $23 million on a DHS contract that was eventually terminated
- $390,798 on NIH’s dog bite prevention website
- $15,000 for EPA to study pollution from your backyard BBQ
NTU has a long track record of tackling many of the same issues like Social Security overpayments and the ridiculous U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Catfish Inspection Office. And we aren’t the only ones.
Many of these programs have also drawn the ire of our friends at the U.S. Public Research Interest Group (U.S. PIRG). Our two groups often disagree on the size, scope, and proper role of government – but can agree that taxpayer funds shouldn’t be spent on unnecessary or duplicative projects. There’s lots of overlap with Senator McCain’s report in our jointly issued 2013 Common Ground report, which also contains plenty of other recommended spending cuts.
Senator McCain promises that there are more reports to come, even taking on agencies that some consider to be political “third rails” like the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. Not every legislator is willing to scour these budgets with scissors in hand, but with soaring debt and major fiscal challenges on the horizon, it’s essential that we make every dollar count.
Let’s hope that Congress will actually take steps to address this spending problem and that future reports become shorter and shorter.