U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.) has released a new report, “Wastebook 2011” that highlights over $6.5 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways taxpayer dollars were wasted. The 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 are cited in the report,” said Coburn. “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 rein 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,” Coburn said.
The USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) is cited in the report with spending the report terms questionable. “MAP spends $200 million annually to subsidize advertising, market research, and travel around the globe for various industry groups, cooperatives, corporations, and their members or employees,” according to the report. “But the industries that benefit from the program are among the country‘s most productive. For example, the U.S. cotton industry, via Cotton Council International, received $20.3 million in the same year (2010) in which it earned revenues of $5.3 billion, according to USDA estimates.”
Most recently, MAP used taxpayer dollars to subsidize a popular reality television show in India where aspiring designers create fashionable outfits using cotton.
Well-known American brands like Welch‘s, Sunkist, and others have received tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers to promote their products. Since 1999, total reimbursements for MAP‘s international market promotion activities have reached nearly $2 billion.
What‘s more, the program duplicates other USDA efforts, and it is difficult to see what impact it has. For example, the United States is already the world‘s largest exporter of cotton.
Other agricultural projects cited in the report include over $170,000 taxpayer funds spent on a Farm-to-Table marketing effort and a food hub study in Vermont. According to documents supplied by the USDA, “the project will allow the Newport City Renaissance Corporation to provide the necessary outreach to local farms and restaurants located in downtown Newport and amplify cross-promotion that will allow them to enhance and expand their business and develop Newport into a hub for a fresh food network.”
Other examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2011” include:
• $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.
Read the full report: here