It’s no secret that the U.S. government’s fiscal endeavors are riddled with pork spending. Despite being over $17 trillion dollars in debt, the government continues to dole out money to causes which many would deem frivolous.
In response to the government’s spending, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released the 2013 edition of the “Wastebook,” his annual document that details exactly how the federal government is spending its money.
At least the Senator demonstrates some humility by placing the government shutdown, a government-wide debacle with which he was directly affiliated, at the top of the list. As he says in the Wastebook, “the first session of the 113th Congress will likely go down in history as the least productive in history, more notable for what it did not do than what it did. A mere 57 laws were enacted, no budget could be agreed upon, and not a single regular appropriations bill to fund government operations passed on time resulting, in part, for a 16 day government wide shutdown in October. Through it all Congress was paid. And eventually so were all the other federal employees, including many deemed nonessential and therefore not permitted to report to work.”
According to Coburn, the effort of paying back those nonessential employees cost over $2 billion for services that were not being performed during the shutdown.
The Wastebook lists several other government spending projects, including a $1 million grant given to the National Endowment of the Humanities to study the influence of romance on popular culture. Whether or not you agree with the value of academic enrichment, the amount of money spent on grants such of these has little practical effects on society or its citizens.
Coburn also cites the destruction of $7 billion worth of weapons that were used in Afghanistan, claiming that the Department of Defense fears the influx of used weapons would undermine their ability to continue profiting off new weapons.
While Coburns claims are undoubtedly aimed towards defending a policy of limited government spending, they do demonstrate just how much money is spent on things that are likely much more “non-essential” than the government workers that were furloughed in October.
In a rare demonstration of bipartisan support, both the House and Senate have approved a government spending bill that would cover the federal budget for over a year. Hopefully a first step has been taken to eliminate the unnecessary spending of item #1 on Coburn’s list.