Before the Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling battle last year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, tried to dismiss the push for spending cuts. “[T]he cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make. It’s really important that people understand that," said Pelosi. "We all want to reduce the deficit. We’re all committed to that. Put everything on the table. Review it. But you cannot have any more cuts just for the sake of cuts. Right now, you’re taking trophies."
Um, yeah, false. There may be wailing and gnashing of teeth about the sequester, but, in reality, there’s still plenty of wasteful federal spending that could and should be slashed. And it’s not like Congress has to go very far to find a starting point. This morning, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released Wastebook 2014, an annual report outlining the 100 most egregious examples of government spending.
"With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing," said Coburn, who has fiercely opposed government waste during his congressional career. "Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects."
"I have learned from these experiences that Washington will never change itself. But even if the politicians won’t stop stupid spending, taxpayers always have the last word," he added.
While there are many in Congress from both parties who, like Pelosi, either deny that there is room to cut or don’t want to bother with trimming back Washington’s bloated bureaucracy, the 2014 iteration of Wastebook offers $25 billion in wasteful spending from an alphabet soup of federal agencies. Here are some examples from the report:
- Federal agencies spent $19 million on paid vacations for bureaucrats
- The National Institutes of Health dropped $387,000 on Swedish massages for rabbits
- The National Science Foundation spent $171,000 to study the behavior of gambling monkeys
- The Department of Agriculture doled out $200,000 to help New York-based Empire Brewing build a beer farm
- The National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research spent $307,524 on synchronized swimming for sea monkeys
- The State Department wasted $90 million to promote U.S. culture throughout the world
- The Department of Homeland Security spent $450,000 on gym memberships for its employees
- The Department of Transportation gave Fresno, California $16 million to build a road through a "ghost mall"
- The United States Postal Service has spent $77 million to subsidize shipments of soft drinks and other items to remote towns in Alaska
- The National Science Foundation dropped $5.2 million on fictional voicemails from a post-apocalyptic world
Yeah, man, there’s totally nowhere else to cut waste from the budget, right, Nancy Pelosi?
FreedomWorks Letter to Congress in Support of Fiscal Commision Act (H.R. 5779)