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You Won’t Believe How The Government Spent $30 Billion Of Your Money In 2013

December 18, 2013 by  

You Won’t Believe How The Government Spent $30 Billion Of Your Money In 2013

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released his annual government spending “Wastebook” on Tuesday, highlighting $30 billion in wasteful government spending in 2013 on 100 different projects.

The report also said that while the government went out of its way to inconvenience average Americans to prove a point about the $85 billion government sequester and shutdown, it continued to throw taxpayer dollars away by lending millions to wealthy Americans for beachfront property, purchasing 3-D pizza printers for NASA and building a $300 million failed Army surveillance blimp.

The report’s comic book themed cover page references $125,000 spent by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to finance the production of a documentary, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle,” which examines the history of comics and their impact.

“Collectively these cost more than $30 billion in a year when Washington would have you believe everything that could be done has been done to control unnecessary spending,” Coburn said in a statement. “Had just these 100 been eliminated, the sequester amount would have been reduced nearly a third without any noticeable disruption.”

The budget hawk contends that the 113th Congress has provided a good example of why lawmakers should be paid only when they get the job done.

“The first session of the 113th Congress will likely go down in history as the least productive in history, more notable for what it do not do than what it did,” Coburn said, adding that the government shutdown cost taxpayers $400 million to reinstate paychecks for furloughed Federal employees who earn more than $100,000 a year.

“Congress should not be paid when it fails to pass an annual budget required by law,” Coburn said.

The lawmaker also noted that the budget deal currently being touted by some lawmakers does nothing to cut the government’s most wasteful spending highlighted in his report.

The report’s comic book themed cover page references $125,000 spent by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to finance the production of a documentary, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle,” which examines the history of comics and their impact.

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Here are 15 examples of the most outrageous government spending as noted by the report (photos from Coburn’s report):

1. Uncle Sam Looking for Romance on the Web — (NEH) $914,000

More and more people are looking for love online and now Uncle Sam is paying to make the web a little more romantic. The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective — while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.” In addition to the funds provided by NEH, the Library of Congress Center for the Book is also a participant in the project.

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2. Beachfront Boondoggle: Taxpayer’s on the Hook for Paradise Island Homes — (HI) $500 million

Ever dream of escaping it all and owning a dream home on a remote island paradise? Didn’t think you could afford it? Think again. There is now a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) home loan program here to help you. Created to assist those with low and moderate incomes in rural areas obtain “safe and sanitary dwellings,” the program has expanded to cover “mortgages for millionaires” and homes in suburban and urban areas, as well as seaside “resort communities.”

This year more than 100 individuals or families received loan guarantees for $500,000 or more from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase a residence in Hawaii. If these new homeowners later cannot afford their new homes, it’s no problem; the federal government will protect the banks from losses by repaying 90 percent of the loans.

3. Pimping the Tax Code — (NV) $17.5 million

Through the tax code, Uncle Sam is assisting the operation of the legal brothels in Nevada. These businesses are antiquated practices from the days of the state’s silver boom starting in the 1850s, yet they still manage to get special treatment in the tax code through exemptions designed for businesses.

Though prostitution is illegal almost everywhere in the nation, the federal tax code still allows brothels to qualify for standard business deductions and expenses. These deductions significantly reduce a brothel’s overall federal income tax liability, even though annual revenues for the industry have been approximately $50 million. All while other sectors of the economy shriveled.

Brothels can take deductions for groceries, “salaries and wages of prostitutes, rent, utilities and taxes and licenses.” The Mustang Ranch brothel, which was Nevada’s oldest, reduced its income tax liability by also deducting costs of “promotion,” which included “free passes.” Workers are also allowed business deductions. “[B]reast implants and…costumes” have also been ruled allowable deductions by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Workers can also deduct the cost of “equipment for that specialized stuff,” noted one tax expert

4. Mass Destruction of Weapons — (DoD) $7 billion

As the U.S. war effort in the Middle East winds to a close, the military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of useable vehicles and other military equipment. The total amount of equipment eventually to be scrapped — the equivalent of 77,000 metric tons — is approximately 20 percent of the total war material the U.S. military has in Afghanistan.

The military has decided to simply destroy more than $7 billion worth of equipment rather than sell it or ship it back home.

5. Millions Spent Building, Promoting an Insurance Plan Few Want and a Website that Doesn’t Work — (Department of Health and Human Services) At least $379 million

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 Healthcare.gov 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 The Associated Press from federal and state sources.”

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6. Cost of Unused Mega-Blimp Goes Up, Up and Away — (Army) $297 Million

In an era of technological advances that make the machines of war smaller and more agile, the Army spent three and a half years developing a football field-sized blimp that would provide continuous surveillance of the Afghan battlefield — called by some an “unblinking eye.”

In 2013, however, the Army closed the blimp’s eye forever when it brought the project to a halt after spending nearly $300 million. The Army sold the airship back to the contractor that was building it for just $301,000.

7. Lifestyle Coaching for Senate Staff — (Senate Office of Education and Training) $1.9 million

Sometimes working in the Senate is stressful and means staying up all night to get your projects done.

Fortunately, overworked and under-slept staffers can take one of dozens of lifestyle coaching classes offered by the Senate to ensure they’re okay.

The Senate Office of Education and Training offers Senate employees a wide variety of free courses on everything from the “Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep” to “Pressure Point Therapy Workshop,” in which students are taught “how to locate and relieve active pressure. For its efforts, the office was provided $1.9 million in 2013 according to information provided by the office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms.

They obviously didn’t set aside enough for proofreading.

8. The Million Dollar Bus Stop — (VA)

“Is it made of gold?” asked one commuter after learning a single bus stop in Arlington County, Virginia, cost $1 million. The answer is no.

The SuperStop is, however, complete with heated benches and sidewalks, “wireless zones for personal computers.” Yet it has one shortcoming — a roof that hardly protects from the rain, snow, wind or blazing sun. With a total cost was $1 million,  the bus stop cost more than most single-family homes.

9. Denali Commission Official Asks to be Fired and for Agency to be Eliminated Because “It Hasn’t Worked Out” — (AK) $10.7 million

It’s not every day an official with a leadership role within a federal agency asks to be fired and for his agency to be eliminated.

It happened this summer.

“I have concluded that [my agency] is a congressional experiment that hasn’t worked out in practice,” wrote Mike Marsh, the Inspector General for the Denali Commission. Marsh said the commission’s mission had “run its course” and that it was time to cut it off from federal funding. The request did not go unnoticed.

“Fire Me” proclaimed the front page headline of the print edition of The Washington Post reporting on the unusual request.

Yet Congress ignored his request and the agency continues to receive federal funds. No hearings were held about the future of the agency or even to defend the money it had spent or work it has done over the past 15 years.

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10. NASA Searches for Signs of Intelligent Life … in Congress — (NASA) $3 million

One of NASA’s next research missions won’t be exploring an alien planet or distant galaxy. Instead, the space agency is spending $3 million to go to Washington, D.C. and study one of the greatest mysteries in the universe — how Congress works.

11. Surplus MRAP’s to Militarize Main Street — ($82.5 Million)

Everyone knows that Ohio State University football games can get wild, but campus cops may have finally taken things too far. Using a Defense Department program, the school along with dozens of other police jurisdictions, are receiving some of the military’s surplus armored vehicles.

At a cost of $500,000 each, U.S. taxpayers gifted $82.5 million in surplus Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) tactical vehicles to law enforcement agencies in 165 communities, including dozens of rural and sparsely populated regions. Intended for large-scale emergencies, MRAP’s are equipped machine gun turrets, bulletproof glass, and armored siding. From Bates County, Missouri to High Springs, Florida, local law enforcement agencies in rural and small-town communities are being equipped with the same military-grade tools that U.S. troops utilized to fight the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

12. Camp Leatherneck Headquarters Facility — (U.S. Department of Defense) $34 million

As troops in Afghanistan were closing bases and sending military equipment back home, DOD was finalizing construction of a state-of-the-art, 64,000-square-foot command HQ facility on Camp Leatherneck that has never been occupied, and will likely be torn down, or turned over to the Afghan government as the facility will likely fall outside the camp’s new security perimeter.

13. Custom Crystal Wine Glasses and Barware — (U.S. Department of State) $5 million

Hours before the federal government was shut down and 800,000 federal employees were furloughed over the budget impasse, the State Department awarded a $5 million, multi-year contract to Simon Pearce, a Vermont-based specialty glassmaker, for the production of custom, hand-blown crystal stemware and barware for its embassies.

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14. Tinkling Away Tax Dollars; Human urine used to fertilize farm crops — (USDA) $15,000

The Rich Earth Institute (REI), a nonprofit organization in Vermont, received a $15,000 grant from the USDA Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program for a project in which a hay field is fertilized with human urine.

As part of the project, REI is hoping to collect 3,000 gallons of urine from volunteers. The urine is then sanitized and “applied as a stream” to the fields to “encourage it to soak into the soil.” The soil will be analyzed for nutrients after the crop is harvested.

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15. Federal Government Paying Salaries to Hundreds of Thousands of Tax Cheats — $3.6 billion

During the year of sweeping budget cuts, millions of federal employees faced layoffs, furloughs, and other cutbacks as a result of Congress’ failure to replace sequestration with responsible, targeted cuts. Most of these federal employees are responsible citizens who pay their taxes. Some, however, don’t feel they have to live by the rules like other Americans.

In 2011, the IRS found nearly 312,000 federal employees and retirees were delinquent on their federal income taxes, owing a total of $3.5 billion in unpaid federal income taxes. This represented an 11.5 percent increase in the number of federal employees failing to pay their taxes, and a 2.9 percent increase in the total taxes owed the Treasury by these public servants.

Read 85 more examples of wasteful government spending listed in Coburn’s report here.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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