Yes, there is more here. Really? Yes, really. Almost defies belief, doesn't it? Just those items taken off the gravy train would save a bundle, and their demise would leave more dollars free for the National Defense budget. One of my favourites from that list? $175,587 for a study on the link between cocaine and the mating habits of quail...No, you can't make this stuff up!
These may be a Top Ten, but there is no shortage of 'special' projects that Americans' tax dollars pay for, that apparently the feds deem so important that they would rather cut Military and Defense budgets than do away with such things as the mating habits for quails.
While reading for this column, I learned that earmarking as we know it, in its present form, was not always a seemingly obligatory sneaky way to add ridulous pet projects onto important bills, and hope that nobody notices. Over at SwineList in a column called: Time to End Earmarks Once and For all, I found this bit of history:
[...] Even as federal power vastly expanded during the twentieth century, Congress did not earmark extensively until the 1980s. Instead, Congress would fund general grant programs and let federal and state agencies select individual recipients through a competitive process or formula. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees named specific projects only when they had been vetted and approved by authorizing committees. Members of Congress with local concerns would lobby the president and federal agencies for consideration. The process was aimed at preventing abuse and allocating resources on the basis of merit and need.
From 1991 until the enactment of the moratorium for the 112th Congress, earmarks steadily increased in frequency and size. A 2007 report from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Inspector General found that between 1996 and 2005, DOT earmarks increased in number by 1,150 percent and in value by 314 percent. As vocal critics such as Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) have noted, earmarks have greased the skids for runaway spending and bad policy for decades. Politically powerful politicians in Washington began using earmarks as a currency to buy votes on bills that members would not otherwise vote for. The secrecy involved in this process invited the use of earmarks to fund wasteful projects, such as the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” that was included in the 2005 transportation bill.
Taxpayers were hopeful that this practice would come to an end with the passage of the earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress. Unfortunately, that hope was misplaced. Analysis of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by Citizens Against Government Waste identified 111 earmarks – 59 of which matched exact language from previous earmarks. A December 12, 2011 report produced by Sen. McCaskill’s office identified 115 earmarks worth $834 million in the NDAA. Twenty Republican freshmen who campaigned against earmarks were among the requesters....
Imagine that! This is a must read here for very enlightening facts on the practice of earmarking. The final paragraph on it says what needs to be done, but remains pessimistic that there is any political will to actually do something about the absurd projects being funded while serious matters - oh, like National Defense and the health of our Veterans - go on the Obama chopping block.
As referenced above, Senator Tom Coburn keeps track of these things. In his December 2010 edition of WasteBook: A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low Priority Govenment Spending of 2011, he has this:
Robot dragons, video games, Christmas trees, snow cone machines, and chocolate.
This is not a Christmas wish list.
These are just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars this year.
Over the past 12 months, Washington politicians
argued, debated and lamented about how to reign
in the federal government‘s out of control spending.
All the while, Washington was on a shopping
binge, spending money we do not have on things
we do not need, like the $6.9 billion worth of
examples provided in this report. The result:
Instead of cutting wasteful spending, nearly $2.5
billion was added each day in 2011 to our national
debt, which now exceeds $15 trillion....
You may well ask - or at least you should be asking - what sort of projects does your government see fit to fund, all the while making sure that the Military has to argue for every dime they get? Take a look:
1) Politicians Partying on the Taxpayer Dime – (Presidential Election
Campaign Fund) $35.38 Million
2) Mangled Mango Effort Could Hurt Farmers It Meant to Help –
(Pakistan) $30 Million
In 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) undertook a four-year, $90 million effort to spur hiring and sales among Pakistani businesses. Two years later, the USAID Inspector General (USAID OIG) found ―no measurable increases in sales and employment....
You think I'm kidding? There is more:
5) Paying for Pancakes – (D.C) $765,828
Almost $800,000 of federal taxpayer funds went to subsidize ―pancakes for yuppies in the nation‘s capital. [That was paid to IHOP, and you really have to go read to find out why.
One of my personal favourites (but no surprise to me) is this one:
7) Dead Federal Employees Continue to Get Benefits Checks – (U.S. Office of Personnel Management) $120 Million
The federal government sent an average of $120 million in retirement and disability payments to deceased former federal employees every year for at least the past five years.
In a September 2011 report, the Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management found that ―the amount of post-death improper payments is consistently $100-$150 million annually, totaling over $601 million in the last five years.
In one example the IG found, an annuitant‘s son cashed his dead father‘s checks for 37 years. The son‘s scheme, which cost taxpayers more than $500,000, was discovered in 2008, when he himself died. ―The improper payment was not recovered, the IG reported...
I am sure that most of my readers already know that the US pays millions in aid to China, and that is included in this list. To read the details is almost jawdropping. Really.
How about almost half a million dollars to this project?:
11) Drug-Themed “Mellow Mushroom” Pizza Restaurant – (TX) $484,000
Our nation currently faces many challenges; a shortage of beer and pizza, however, is rarely cited as one of them. Still, a private developer received nearly half a million dollars in federal funds to build Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, a nationwide pizza chain, in Arlington, Texas.
Okay, I have to ask, WTH are the feds smoking to think that this kind of funding is acceptable? Hello?
19) Children, Prisoners, and Others Who Don’t Own Homes Awarded
Energy Efficient Home Improvement Tax Credits (Internal Revenue
Service) – $1 Billion
As much as $1 billion or more in tax credits for energy efficient residential improvements109 are being claimed by individuals with no record of owning a home, including prisoners and underage children.
How about funding for a Magic Museum, or over $500,000 to make a documentary about, and I quote, How Rock and Roll Contributed to the Collapse of the Soviet Union. That's number 16 on the list. Oh the name of this movie? Rockin' the Kremlin. These projects are included in a 98 page pdf document, and the other examples are equally outrageous, unless of course you think that Rockin' the Kremlin, or TVs for rural Vietnamese villagers are more important than, let's say, funding the Troops, or ensuring the VA is adequately funded so it can function at optimal levels for our returning Wounded Warriors, for just one example.
These items listed here are just the tip of a very big iceberg, and I haven't even gone into to all the assinine 'green' projects that have been funded to the tune of millions of taxpayer dollars, before they go on to fail miserably. Every American should be screaming from the rooftops, and demanding accountability from every politician who snuffles up to what they see as a bottomless public trough. For the complete document, go here.
If that list is not enough, try here for another list of even more areas that could be cut to help the US money problems. That is Citizens Against Government Waste. Read these sites, bookmark them, start getting really angry, America.
Nobody denies that in these times that belt tightening is a must, on all levels of government. However, it seems to me that if BHO can stand at the Pentagon and say the Military and Defense budgets must be so drastically cut, he should first take a look at what America should be cutting, and yes, Americans should be demanding such a process be implemented before one more Military-designated dime, one more Troop, is chopped from the budget.
It is more than time for every American to start demanding their politicians get serious about solving the budgetary issues, and cut the budget to the bone, on items that do not directly impact the safety and security of ALL Americans - even those who don't eat pancakes. As this very short glimpse here shows, to continue funding absurd projects is NOT the way to address the bottom line.
Wake UP, America.
As scarey as our government is, I'm glad the GS is getting out. But who will be left to save us, if the smart ones get out??
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