Government Waste

New Report: How Much Money Is The Federal Government Wasting On Outrageous Crap?


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.  

Sen. Coburn 2013 Wastebook

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, 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 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:

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  1. Tell me Cash For Clunkers is in there. Has to be.

    Stupidest real world example of the broken window fallacy EVAH.

    1. That was a couple years ago. However, it appears the military has its own version every year.

      Yay! Continuity!

      1. Ah that’s right. I just hate that program so much it just feels like it was more recently.

  2. Nothing left to cut! NOTHING!

    1. More than 100,000 of these “non-essential” furloughed employees receive a salary of at least $100,000.

      Sounds like 10 billion dollars per year that could be cut right there.

  3. “Obamacare is perhaps the biggest marketing flop since Coca-Cola introduced the world to “New Coke” in 1985.”

    This is an extremely unfair comparison =

    New Coke was in fact designed, tested, created, packaged and released to the public entirely on schedule, at cost, and coincident with well-targeted, timely promotions and advertisements.

    It just didn’t sell because the old coke still tasted better than fucking pepsi.

    Obamacare, by contrast, is far shittier than New Coke, but very few can even find that out because the rollout is so fucked up that everyone’s still bitching about the unavailability, not knowing the actual product is even worse than the failed process of implementing it.

    Not to mention that Obamacare had to DESTROY all the other choices before it could come into being. Jesus, its like NEW COKE exterminated all the Old Cokes in death camps, Pepsi fled to South America to avoid political persecution, and then the NEW COKE factory realized they hadn’t budgeted for the enormous need for Aspertame or whatever the new sweetener was and the country was reduced to drinking swamp water.

    And that’s being charitable.

    1. …”everyone’s still bitching about the unavailability,”…

      And the only reason they’re bitching about that is that they are required by law to buy the damn product.

  4. How Much Money Is The Federal Government Wasting On Outrageous Crap?

    All of it.

  5. It really turns my stomach that our government is destroying stuff that would have been sold off-market as military surplus which rarely finds the same customers that the OEM companies sell to. This is stuff we already paid for and would just try to re-coup a little of that back. Seven-fucking-billion dollars!

    1. CNN was blathering on at lunch about how it would cost more money to bring the equipment home and this equipment is just too expensive to maintain so no one would buy it. Right. We can find no one willing to pay anything, even just the cost of shipping, for $7BB in military hardware.

  6. As a side question = is there no mention of the F35 program?

    I tried searchin’ the thing but… well, not really. “Joint Strike Fighter” didn’t come up on the sidebar search thing.

    *Disclosure = I like planes.

    1. The article was about money wasted on “outrageous crap.” The F-35 is just outrageously overpriced, but potentially useful for a constitutionally allowed purpose.

      1. It’s utility is still up for debate at this point, unfortunately.

        1. The F-35 is pointless when you have the F-22.

  7. “During the shutdown, thousands of federal workers deemed “non-essential” were asked to not show up to work for a few weeks. More than 100,000of 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.”

    Fuck you!!! Where is my “ream burst mint” for private sector furloughs in Q1 and Q2 2009? I knew this was to happen already but the rage is just as piping red hot and fresh as the weeks of tragic moaning on NPR I had to endure.

  8. Or they could have done what the private sector does on furloughs and require the employees to either take the time without pay or to use vacation time. If they’re going to get reimbursed then they should lose the vacation time.

  9. If they are “non essential” why the fuck are they on the payroll in the first place? Just get rid of ’em, that would be like 10 billion over a year in salaries plus bloated benefits for a few billion more.

    Wow, that was easy…! Vote for me.

  10. If you think about it multiply by 10 and we’re talking real money.

  11. That kjsut looks liek its gonna be good man. Wow.

  12. Tom Coburn is a Republican. Republicans want more government.

    1. not really – most of them do not. What they are afraid of is that if they take away the goodies( unnecessary govt jobs, spending, programs ect…) then it will render them unelectable.
      The entitlement culture in this country is so ingrained that no one can imagine life without things like social security, food stamps ect… yet there was a time before we had all this crap.

      1. too many republicrats are all too willing to tell you what your hard earned money should be spent on too, just look at all the spending under Bush.

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