No senator has been more vocal about government waste of taxpayer dollars than Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R). As the House-approved budget heads to the Senate, Coburn’s most recent effort is directed at oil paintings of congressmen that can cost up to $50,000 each. Digital technology would be cheaper and still permit for air-brushing to improve the person’s looks. Yet the government holds to the antique practice of paying for paintings.
Most taxpayers are clueless about just how much federal money is simply wasted.
Coburn has prepared numerous reports about what amounts to idiotic spending. HisBack in Black report documented painless ways to reduce the deficit by $9 trillion over the next decade.
Taxpayers may not realize that federal agencies own limousines costing more than $10 million a year and the government even pays $3.2 million for liaison offices for Hollywood. Although the Federal Parole Commission was eliminated in 1984, the government still spends more than $12 million on it.
In 2012, Coburn came up with The Waste Book. Among the controversial disclosures:
- Junk food, luxury drinks, soap operas, and billions of dollars in improper food stamp payments burned approximately $4.5 billion dollars. Funds were spent on alcohol and gourmet coffee drinks. The food doesn’t even have to be nutritious.
- In New York and Massachusetts, 2,000 dead people were still receiving food stamps and more than 7,000 people were improperly getting double food stamps. This contributed to excess costs of more than $1 million every single month in those two states alone.
- The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture spent $300,000 in one year to promote a food few Americans can afford to eat—caviar.
- The National Science Foundation spent $516,000 on a video game—about Prom Week.
If you read Coburn’s report, it won’t take you long to realize elected officials and bureaucrats in charge of taxpayer money are miserable failures at common sense and accountability.
Another example of the lack of logic in the political class occurred on Thursday when a Democrat congresswoman claimed changes in the federal budget would make it harder to recruit federal workers. Why? Because new hires will pay an additional 1.3 percent to their pension plans already mostly paid for by taxpayers.
Federal workers’ average salaries already dwarf those of state government and private sector workers. Federal workers will even get most of their health insurance subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer—a carveout the administration of President Barack Obama and Congress made sure to append to the PPACA/Obamacare tax bill.
Amid controversy over a budget agreement reached by the Democrat congresswoman Patty Murray (Wash.) and the Republican Paul Ryan (Wisc.), Coburn told media he was “real disappointed” in the deal. While Ryan was admittedly at a disadvantage in dealing with Murray, a far left tax and spender, fiscal conservatives were bitterly disappointed waste and fraud were not aggressively addressed. Newsmax said:
“’I’m sure it’s the best Paul could get. But, it’s not anything I can support,’ Coburn said.
Wasteful government spending is ignored in the budget deal before Congress, the two-term senator maintained. He said Congress is failing to do its job and ‘be responsible.’”
Taxpayers shouldn’t view addressing waste, fraud, and impractical spending as a divisive issue.
Coburn said he has found $25 billion more in “stupid spending” and he will detail that in a new Waste Book.
Meanwhile, oil paintings are still the norm in Washington for congressmen and women.
(Filed by Kay B. Day/Dec. 13, 2013)