Republican Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona released his 2016 “Wastebook” report detailing wasteful spending in government agencies. The 206 page report is filled with government agencies and departments wasting millions, sometimes billions, of taxpayer dollars. At a time when Republicans in both chambers are concerned about the repeal of Obamacare due to “budget reconciliations,” one would think this report would be used to “trim” the fiscal calories from the binging diet of taxpayer dollars these agencies consume.
The Daily Caller carried the report on the release of Flake’s “Wastebook” covering the $12 million dollar email back up system obtained by the IRS which it could not and did not use. The system, designed to prevent the loss of emails, was never activated after being procured after the Lois Lerner/IRS scandal. Procurement of the system violated federal procurement laws and resulted in an ongoing subscription to email archiving to a system that was never used.
In another stellar display of waste, the Department of Energy, an unconstitutional department, spent a total of $450 million dollars on “a clean energy project intended to capture man-made carbon dioxide (CO2).” The project, located near Powell, Texas, was intended to capture carbon dioxide from a coal burning plant using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. It is six years behind schedule and stuck in the first phase, meaning no ground has been broken on the facility and the 600 acre site proposed for development remains in an undeveloped state. (pg. 37 of the report) A bipartisan group of Congress rejected a recommendation in the 2017 budget to terminate the project meaning the undeveloped site continues to suck up taxpayer funds.
These are taxpayer funds that were spent that can not ever be recovered.
In the summary outlining what is covered in the report, NSF granted $565,000 to fund a study to determine how long Mudskippers, a fish that can live outside of water for extended periods and use their fins like legs, could run on a treadmill.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was alerted to the Flint, Michigan unsafe drinking water two years ago; but, instead of tackling the problem, the EPA chose to ignore it and misspend taxpayer dollars. A Washington state lobbying campaign that likely broke federal and state laws was paid $570,000 by the EPA. Not stopping there, the agency paid $40,000 to develop “a version of the Minecraft game exclusively for the well-to-do Berkshires.”
Did you ever want to know about monkey drool or if the color red makes monkeys more romantic? Well, if you did, the National Institute of Health (NIH) spent $1 million dollars on the evolution of monkey drool and another $230,000 to find out if the color red makes female monkeys more romantic.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded $3 billion dollars from its highway trust fund to build a high-speed train in California. To date, not one single track or rail has been laid. The report states, “billions over budget and years behind schedule, the only thing high-speed about this train is how quickly it is chew chewing taxpayer dollars.” Moreover, the DOT spent $35,000 to display a glow-in-the-dark doobie, marijuana cigarette, in Denver, Colorado, to warn “pot-smoking motorists not to drive while stoned.”
The Department of Defense (DOD) is likewise engaged in “pork” spending. According to the report summary:
DOD is sinking more than $80 million into a “spaceport” in Alaska that is not even equipped for the rockets that the Pentagon is planning to launch there. Derided as “space pork,” Congress forced DOD to build the launch site as part of an illegal kick-back scheme over the objections of the military.
As part of an effort by DOD and NSF to teach computers how to understand human behavior, the machines were programmed to watch television shows. After viewing over 600 hours of “Desperate Housewives,” “The Office,” and other programs, the computers were still unable to predict how humans would behave in most situations.
With Americans suffered through missing flights from long security line waits, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spent $700,000 to renovate a little used airport in Illinois boasting a whopping 20 flight-per-week departure.
And, if you were concerned about the stability of your gingerbread house to withstand earthquakes, worry no more. The Institute of Museum and Library Services granted $150,000 to participants in a workshop dubbed “How Does the Cookie Crumble?” to design earthquake proof gingerbread houses. The confection were then tested on a shake table to see if they would survive an earthquake.
The list could go on and on of wasteful government spending; and, it did — 206 pages worth (including summary, methodology, and references) which detailed the waste on 50 separate incidences. The activity covered fiscal year 2016 which began on October 1, 2015, and ended September 30, 2016. No total amount was given for the sum of wasteful spending. However, with $80 million here, $70 million there, and hundreds of thousands and millions in between, one could guess the wastefulness of government department and agency spending could easily reach into the billions of dollars, if not one trillion.
The report did issue a sort of disclaimer on the waste identified.
In the case of some research supported with federal funds, a study was considered eligible for inclusion if it was conducted with the support of federal assistance and was published or made available to the public in 2016.
The best effort was made to determine the precise cost of the activity, product or service profiled in an entry paid for with taxpayer funds. However, in some cases the exact amount spent was not tracked by the agency, could not be determined, or was spent over a number of years, including future years. Therefore, the amount provided may be the total amount budgeted for the program or grant profiled rather than for the specific purpose highlighted.
Still, this is unacceptable. Despite Sen. Flake’s efforts to highlight and expose to the public and other members of both chambers of Congress the outrageous waste and unconstitutional spending of taxpayer dollars, one can be assured the charlatan politicians will “kick the can” down the road, meaning the waste currently identified will not be stopped, no one will be held accountable, and new wasteful “projects” and “studies” will be funded. It is without a doubt that Sen. Flake will have another issue of “Wastebook” for fiscal year 2017.