US Government’s Wasteful Spending Problem


I find that regardless of your political leanings, people continually frustrated by wasted government spending and what it means for the national debt.  The debt, which was a trillion dollars in Reagan’s time, is now about $20T (it has risen at a shocking 8.4% annual clip). Despite today’s quote, Reagan himself substantially overspent during his 8 years in office.  Fast forward to today and our national debt has become even bigger than the country’s annual GDP.  (US Debt Clock)

Before November’s election, I wrote this article about the five things I would like to see the new President & Congress address.  Government debt, deficits and taxes affect all of us as we plan to reach financial independence and retire early (FIRE).  Recently, I ran across a series of posts on Federal Government waste on the website of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.  He chairs a Congressional oversight committee looking at government waste and provides a lot of detail on dozens of clearly wasteful government programs.

Even if thousands of readers pooled all of their taxes to Uncle Sam this year, it wouldn’t come close to offsetting the magnitude of the waste that was uncovered …

Hundreds of Thousands of $$$

  • $500 thousand – Grant to University of California from National Science Foundation to understand if taking a ‘selfie’ impacts your happiness
  • $700 thousand – From the National Science Foundation to four universities to study why people did not hear the word ‘a’ in Neil Armstrong’s moon landing statement.
  • $688 thousand – NSF and Department of Commerce grant to produce a book & Netflix video on the metric system and why Americans do not like it.
  • $300 thousand – For the Detroit VA hospital to buy new TVs for a hospital that has never been built.  Under federal spending rules they had to “use it or lose it” and the TVs have been sitting in storage for 3 years.

Millions of Dollars $$$

  • $1.7 million – From the State Department to produce and air a TV campaign to encourage people in Cambodia to wear motorcycle helmets.  The ad featured ghosts that people that died in motorcycle crashes trying to scare people into wearing helmets.
  • $2.9 million – From FEMA to a Mississippi school impacted by Katrina (almost 10 years ago) where in a single land deal  “one person became the seller, buyer, financier, and approver” of a new school in a housing development also owned by the same person.  The school was said to originally have 90 students, but only 13 could be identified.
  • $2.2 million – From the National Park Service to pay for concerts and theater performances in the Washington DC area.  The Park Service has asked Congress repeatedly to eliminate the earmark that funds the programs, but they were ignored.
  • $6 million – Renovation to the dining room at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, despite the Army fort being on the list to be closed less than 1 year later.  The 2015 work was done anyway – and completed one month before the fort closed in 2016.

Tens of Millions of $$$

  • $78 million – Foreign aid to the country of Georgia to rebuild aging gas infrastructure while older gas infrastructure in the USA is exploding and killing Americans.
  • $43 million – Spent by the Department of Defense for a natural gas filling station in Afghanistan which went unused despite a feasibility study which showed there were are no compressed natural gas vehicles to utilize it.

Hundreds of Millions of $$$

  • $350 million – From Department of Defense in equipment was “lost” across Afghanistan, including vehicle spare parts and heavy equipment sent to Afghanistan to help create an engineering brigade of the Afghan army.  The Congressional oversight committee said this was not surprising it had happened in the past – hundreds of millions dollars of other parts had been “unaccounted for since 2004”.
  • $326 million – From State Department for rehabilitating dirt roads in Afghanistan. The project’s goal was to rehabilitate as many as 2,000 kilometers of road, but only 159 kilometers were completed.   $32 million of the budget was set aside for “community outreach” which was assessed to have “produced few results”.

Hundreds of Billions of $$$ Wasted

All of these examples were uncovered just in the last 6 months.  They are not Democrat problems or Republican problems – they are government problems.

If it makes you wonder how much waste ISN’T yet uncovered by the congressional committee – here is the answer: The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon recently “hid” a study they did with McKinsey that identified an incredible  $125 BILLION in waste.

The Pentagon did not share the report with the Obama Administration because they feared having their budget cut.  I certainly wish that this report would have received more attention in the news!

Image Credit: Pixabay



14 thoughts on “US Government’s Wasteful Spending Problem

  1. All this waste yet they still say they need to raise our taxes because the funds are going broke. They’ll blow a million $ like nothing then need more from me? Not the same thing but recently we sent a B-2 bomber flying from the US to like Syria to bomb an ISIS target. I read it cost millions to fly the plane plus the bombs etc to kill like 12 guys in a house somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure that there is a lot of waste in military operations like that. That’s probably how the Pentagon found $125B in waste.


  2. Crazy stuff. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our Government should follow some basic rules of finance. Don’t lend money you don’t have, spend less than you make. We really need to get back to some basic here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree. And when they audit they’re spending, they don’t have basic financial controls the way a private company would. They literally have very little idea where the money has been spent.


    1. Since they don’t directly report to anyone , there is no accountability! That is why I am for small government – plus spending equals last waste.


  3. The one about needing to spend the budget even when the facility closes is very real and not limited to the fed. Even in corporate life it’s common to spend your budget simply because if you don’t you won’t get that money next year. It’s the worst type of waste.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – big company sometimes do the same thing. One hand does not know what the other hand is doing.


  4. The issue with talking about millions and billions of dollars is that it is hard to get your head around. I like to look at government spending in terms of how many people had to pay taxes to fund something. For example, let’s assume that the “average” working American family makes something like $60,000 per year and pays about 25% in federal taxes (12% income taxes and 13% Social Security taxes), for total taxes of $15,000 per year.

    That means if they hadn’t spent the $6 M to refurbish the dining room in the fort before closing it, $6M/15,000 = 400 people could have not paid their taxes.

    President takes a trip that costs $200M in security and transportation costs (partly because the first lady flies out first, rather than wait an hour for him), about 14,000 people could have not paid taxes.

    If we had not spent $2B on the Obamacare website, instead paying a professional firm about $1M to deliver a working website with the same functions, we could have not had about 135,000 people not pay taxes – enough to populate a small city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the analogies to our ‘everyday’ world really bring the spending into focus. Love those examples!


  5. I have seen sur much waiste on just a small scale. Edwards AFB Youth Programs buys new furniture for the Center every few years. Rather than fixinng broken furniture, they buy new pièces. In the end, they end up replacing all the furniture dp it matches. When, I suggested that we paint it, because it wasnt right to the tax payers, since we are 20 trillion in debt, I was told that we néed it to look for higher ups. Every year we have a DOD inspection, we replace most of the games, Old furniture, old videos, books, old crayons, markers, glue, and so forth, so we don’t get marked down. We have taken piles to the trash every year. This stuff was not trash. My sister teaches in a public high school and was appalled at the waiste, when we talked about it. The desks in her classroom have not been replaced since the 1970’s. She has to supply most of her office stuff because there is not enough money. However, the federal government seems to spend without a limit. The situation us crazy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Would it be OK if I cro5ss-posted this article to I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s