As the budget deficit soared, infrastructure crumbled and the economy tanked, the federal government this year spent $300,000 for a California skateboarding park, $188,000 to research Maine lobsters and $3.2 million on a spy blimp the military doesn't want, according to a new report by the Senate's self-styled spending scourge.
The report, to be released today by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., lists more than $1.3 billion of what it calls wasteful projects in 2008….
• Various federal agencies spent $167,290 for portrait paintings of Cabinet officers.
• The federal Institute of Museums and Library Sciences awarded a $3,905 grant to the public library in Westfield, Ind., for the purchase of a Nintendo Wii console, a television, a camcorder and games.
• The Agriculture Department gave $298,068 to an Idaho farmer to help him advertise and market his specialty potatoes sold mainly to high-end restaurants.
• The Small Business Administration guaranteed $82 million in loans for 331 liquor stores, including Spanky's Liquor World and Pistol Pete's Beef N' Beer.
• Five members of Congress spent nearly $22,000 to stay three nights at a luxury hotel on the Galapagos Islands, the South American archipelago where Charles Darwin mulled his theory of evolution. That figure doesn't include the cost of the Air Force jet placed at their disposal.
Go here for the spending-tracking site Coburn and then-Sen. Barack Obama created in 2006.
And click below to watch Coburn talk to Reason.tv about how earmarks destroy the integrity of the Congress and the federal government: