Dec 22, 2010

Wastebook 2010

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released his book of government waste in his annual “Wastebook”.

“During these difficult times when families are struggling to make ends meet, the federal government can best assist hard working Americans by keeping their taxes low and not burdening them with higher debt,” Coburn says in the report’s introduction. “Congress can do so by not spending money we do not have on things we do not need, like the over $11.5 billion of examples provided in this report.”

“As you look at these examples, ask yourself: at a time when we are borrowing over $44,000 for every person in the country, are these items a priority and are they a federal responsibility?” he encourages readers.

“Many taxpayers will no doubt agree that the wasteful spending uncovered in this report is not what they had in mind when they filed their taxes in April. Few will find that they represent the best our government has to offer.”

Here's the lowlights...

• The city of Las Vegas has received a $5.2 million federal grant to build the Neon Boneyard Park and Museum, including $1.8 million in 2010. For over the last decade, Museum supporters have gathered and displayed over 150 old Las Vegas neon signs, such as the Golden Nugget and Silver Slipper casinos.

• The National Science Foundation provided more than to $200,000 to study of why political candidates make vague statements.

• The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends $175 million every year to maintain hundreds of buildings it does not use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio.

• Medicare paid out over $35 million to a vast network of 118 “phantom” medical clinics, allegedly established by members of a criminal gang to submit phony reimbursement claims.

• The Government Printing Office (GPO) is using a “video game space mouse” (and nearly $60,000 in taxpayer funds) to teach children the history of printing.

• In July, nearly half a million taxpayer dollars went to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, where wine tasting and castle tours were among the events planned for the conference participants.

• The Internal Revenue Service paid out $112 million in undeserved tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent returns, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

• The National Science Foundation directed nearly a quarter million dollars to a Stanford University professor’s study of how Americans use the Internet to find love.

• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took the term “cold case” to a new level in 2010. The agency spent over $20,000 in taxpayer money “to unravel the anonymity of a 2,500-year-old mummy.”

• The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent nearly $442,340 million to study the number of male prostitutes in Vietnam and their social setting.

• This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the “first-of-its kind” promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After. ”

• The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded over $600,000 to the Minnesota Zoo to create a wolf “avatar” video game called “WolfQuest.”

• A $700,000 federal grant paid for researchers to examine “greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies, which are cause by cow burps, among other things.”

• Also, $615,000 to digitize a Grateful Dead collection.

• And $823,200 to study genitalia washing in South Africa.

Read the entire report for more examples, including: $224,000 for a bus statue; $609,160 for a zoo to develop a “Wolfquest” video game; and $997,766 to install poetry at zoos nationwide.

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