The GOP should be doing more of this. Coburn just scratches the surface:
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new oversight report, "Wastebook 2011" that highlights over $6.5 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways your taxpayer dollars were wasted. This report details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects spread throughout the federal government.
"Video games, robot dragons, Christmas trees, and magic museums. This is not a Christmas wish list, these are just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars. Over the past 12 months, 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 absolutely need. Instead of cutting wasteful spending, nearly $2.5 billion was added each day in 2011 to our national debt, which now exceeds $15 trillion," Dr. Coburn said.
"Congress cannot even agree on a plan to pay for the costs of extending jobless benefits to the millions of Americans who are still out of work. Yet, thousands of millionaires are receiving unemployment benefits and billions of dollars of improper payments of unemployment insurance are being made to individuals with jobs and others who do not qualify. And remember those infamous bridges to nowhere in Alaska that became symbols of government waste years ago? The bridges were never built, yet the federal government still spent more than a million dollars just this year to pay for staff to promote one of the bridges."
Full report here.
Here are a few lowlights:
• $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettias.
• $15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska.
• $113,227 for video game preservation center in New York.
• $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
• $48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival, to promote Hawaii's chocolate industry.
• $350,000 to support an International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.
• $10 million for a remake of "Sesame Street" for Pakistan.
• $35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012.
• $765,828 to subsidize "pancakes for yuppies" in the nation's capital.
• $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.
Don't let the small amounts fool you. There are many thousands of such line item expenditues in the budget that need to be examined by asking the question; "Is this really something the national government should be spending tax dollars on?"
Some might pass that test. Many more would not. The problem is that there are so many, it is almost beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend. The thousands and thousands of pages that make up the national budget cannot be seen in its totality so that the impact of the waste is diminished by the sheer, overwhelming amount of information one has to absorb to make rational choices.
The budget is out of control because there are thousands of these kinds of questionable expenditures that nobody wants to bother taking out because the process is so cumbersome.
This is where a line item veto for the president would come in handy -- something the Supreme Court has struck down time and again. It is time to revisit the issue and try to devise a line item veto that would not only do the job, but pass muster with the courts.