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 MrFireStation.com 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