Sen. Coburn reveals $6.9 billion in waste

Wednesday Waste | December 21, 2011

As the curtain closes on 2011, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and his staff decided to take a closer look at the federal government’s ledger. The subsequent report outlines $6.9 billion dollars in what the Senator calls “egregious” waste. Though this total is just a fraction of the $3.599 trillion spent in 2011, some of the examples are just plain heinous.

Take for instance the $35.38 million given to political parties to help pay for the national conventions leading up to the presidential election. You may think this money is restricted to security for elected officials, but instead, the taxpayer money “could help pay for the stages, confetti, balloons, food, and booze” for attendees.

Among many other examples, Coburn sheds light on $30 million sent to Pakistan for agriculture assistance before the program was deemed ineffective and cancelled; $6 million for small airports, 62.5 percent of which never met a single grant objective; $4.38 billion in wartime contracting waste and fraud; another $14.3 million (for a grand total of $65 million) for Alaska’s famous bridge to nowhere; $120 million in benefits to dead federal employees; $17.8 million in foreign aid to China, the largest holder of our federal debt; and $484,000 to a Texas drug themed pizzeria which is considered a high risk environment for lenders.

At some point it’s easy to lose sight of what these numbers mean, but some anecdotes serve as a reminder that when one constituency wins, another loses. Los Angeles allegedly “redirected $1 million in taxpayer money intended to help the city’s homeless and low income residents to a wealthy international architecture firm designing a NFL football stadium.”

Furthermore, as much as $1 billion in taxpayer money intended as a tax credit for energy efficient home improvements was given to those who have no record of owning a home, including prisoners and children. And while it may be illegal for humans to do cocaine, taxpayers funded a study looking for connections between cocaine usage and sexual habits… in quails.

The report outlines far too many examples to list here. And some sound so unbelievable, we recommend you just take a look for yourself.

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