Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) just released his office's annual report on outrageous and frivolous federal government expenditures. The 2013 Wastebook breaks down the details of 100 of the Feds' most egregious expenses from this year.
A few highlights:
Mass Destruction of Functional Weapons: $7 billion
The military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds of usable vehicles and other military equipment. Twenty percent of the U.S.'s total war material used in Afghantistan wil be scrapped. Why? Because officials fear that if the military sells used equipment, it could drive down prices and hurt the defense industry.
Popular Romance Education: $914,000
The National Endowment of the Humanities awarded the Popular Romance Project a nearly $1 million grant to build a website, create a documentary, host an academic symposium and embark on a nationwide library tour exploring the presentation of romance in popular culture. So if you're curious about the cultural significance of Edward and Bella's relationship in Twilight, you're in luck. (Never mind that countless blogs have managed to explore the subject sans government funds.)
Sugar Industry Subsidies: $171.5 million
Through the U.S. Sugar Program, domestic sugar companies can repay government loans with sugar rather than money. In 2013 alone, the government lost $171.5 million because sugar companies could not repay their loans. Under the Feedstock Flexibility Program created in 2008, the government is required to purchase surplus sugar and re-sell it to ethanol producers. This fall, the Feds sold the surplus product at a $56 million loss.
Furloughed Non-Essential Federal Workers Paid For Not Working: At least $400 million
During the shutdown, thousands of federal workers deemed "non-essential" were asked to not show up to work for a few weeks. More than 100,000 of these "non-essential" furloughed employees receive a salary of at least $100,000. Each of these workers was paid $4,000 for their time off work.
Superman Propaganda: $10 million
To encourage enrollment in the military, the National Guard teamed up with Warner Bros. Studios. The government designed a Superman-themed ad campaign, complete with commercials, online videogames, sports car design-wraps and a series of fitness videos, to be aired around the release of the film Man of Steel.
Obamacare, Healthcare.gov: At least $379 million
The Wastebook has strong feelings on this one:
With nearly half-a-billion dollars in government funding put behind promoting a product relatively few people seem interested in purchasing from a website that doesn't work, Obamacare is perhaps the biggest marketing flop since Coca-Cola introduced the world to "New Coke" in 1985.
The cost to build Healthcare.gov is estimated at $319 million so far. "The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled [by] The Associated Press from federal and state sources."
Sen. Coburn, who's known as "Dr. No" (along with former Rep. Ron Paul) for vetoing almost all new spending initiatives, is an outspoken opponent of much discretionary spending and an advocate of entitlement reform. However, he is not opposed to all government spending. He begins the Wastebook with a condemnation of the Feds for skimping on what he considers important programs, such as military pay and housing assistance for the disabled elderly, while funding frivolous ones. Additionally, as a devout social conservative, the Wastebook includes some questionable criticisms. For example, he bemoans Nevada's prostitution industry being allowed to file for standard business deductions.
Read the full report here.
Watch a Reason TV interview with Sen. Coburn about how both parties bankrupted America: