We’re just a few days away from Christmas and it seems everyone is in the spirit of giving. That’s usually a good thing, but when it’s Congress giving money away at taxpayer expense, that’s not necessarily what I deem the holiday spirit.
This past week, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, released his annual report, called “Wastebook,” which highlights some of the most egregious examples of government waste during the current 113th Congress. The report made its way onto the Internet and onto the pages of The Fiscal Times, an online publication that looks at business, politics and the economy.
Coburn identified nearly $30 billion in government waste, a third of what sequester cuts cost the American taxpayer when essential programs and military spending were slashed this past summer. These wasteful programs were left untouched while things like Head Start, valuable research programs and food assistance programs affecting 47 million Americans were hit hard, according to the Fiscal Times report.
Here are some samples of Coburn’s findings:
There are others, like $321 million on duplicate IT systems for Homeland Security, $500 million to spruce up a one-block area of a Kansas town, Rossville, population 1,150 people, and $4 million in refund money for a botched print job on new $100 bills.
One of the most disturbing outlays of cash was the $65 million the government spent on promoting tourism in the New York and New Jersey areas after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. Instead of getting more money to those hammered by the storm, media outlets and ad agencies pocketed millions of dollars with the hope people would still make trips to the coastal communities, to see the devastation, I guess.
I read somewhere recently that Congress has its lowest approval rating of all time and is looked upon less favorably than root canals, cockroaches and commuter traffic.
With such a dismal record by this Congress that Coburn exposes in his annual report, it is no wonder. I suggest each lawmaker receive a lump of coal in his or her stocking this Christmas. And maybe a one-way ticket home at election time.
Bill James is a former editor and publisher of the Daily Republic, now living in Meridian, Idaho, a suburb of Boise.