Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has released the Waste Book, a jaw-dropping glimpse at taxpayer money misuse for everything from NASA’s $1 million effort to develop a menu for what people might eat on Mars one day to the $70 million loss for producing pennies, Fox News reported.
The Republican waste watcher released the report, which lists 100 examples totaling about $19 billion in questionable expenditures, which is tiny in the context of a $16 trillion federal deficit but Coburn said it is representative of a larger issue.
The government ran a deficit of $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2012 and is on target for a fifth straight trillion-dollar deficit next year.
"Would you agree with Washington that these represent national priorities, or would you conclude these reflect the out-of-touch and out-of-control spending threatening to bankrupt of nation’s future?" he said, according to Fox.
Coburn lays blame on both the agencies which spend the money and Congress, which oversees the agencies.
"We're running trillion-dollar deficits. The way you get rid of trillion-dollar deficits — a billion at a time," Coburn told Fox News on Tuesday.
"Some try to rationalize the excessive borrowing and spending as necessary until the economy gets back on track," Coburn told CNN
. "But the increased demand for help is precisely why Washington must be more careful how tax dollars are spent to ensure we can care for those who are truly in need."
Some of the more interesting expenditures include:
- Waterloo, Iowa, is spending $145,000 in federal taxpayers’ money to put a statue of the wife of the 31st president, Herbert Hoover, in a roadside park at the site of the Hoovers’ former home, according to the Washington Times;
- $516,000 for a video game that simulates the social experience of attending a prom;
- $31,000 for Smokey Bear balloons at balloon festivals;
- $300,000 to promote domestically produced caviar;
- $27 million to train Moroccans to make and sell pottery around the world;
- $1 million each year on developing "the Mars menu." It's an effort to come up with a variety of food that humans could eat one day on Mars. NASA has no plans or budget for any manned spaceflights to Mars;
- $325,000 grant for the development of "Robosquirrel," a robotic rodent designed to test the interaction between rattlesnakes and squirrels;
- An estimated $70 million loss for producing pennies.
- Widespread abuse of the food stamp system;
- Nearly $700,000 on a New York-based theater company so it could develop a musical about climate change and biodiversity.
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