The Corner

Taxpayer Dollars at Work: The Wastebook 2012

Every year, Senator Coburn releases his Wastebook, his list of some of the most wasteful spending items in government. The total waste listed in the 2012 report is $18 billion. Here is a sample:

  • Tax loopholes for the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) — professional sports leagues that generate billions of dollars in annual profits ($91 million in taxes forgone)

  • Moroccan pottery classes (part of a $27 million grant from U.S. Agency for International Development)

  • Efforts to promote caviar consumption and production ($300,000)

  • Robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel” (part of a $325,000 grant from the National Science Foundation)

  • Promotion of specialty shampoo and other beauty products for cats and dogs ($505,000)

  • Corporate welfare for the world’s largest snack-food producer, PepsiCo ($1.3 million)

  • Government-funded study on how golfers might benefit from using their imagination to envision the hole as bigger than it actually is ($350,000)

  • “Prom Week,” a video game that allows taxpayers to relive prom night ($516,000)

  • Oklahoma’s layover boondoggle: a scarcely used airport in Oklahoma receiving nearly half-a-million in taxpayer dollars only to transfer funds elsewhere in the state ($450,000)

  • The 2012 Alabama Watermelon Queen tour, paid for in part by the USDA “to promote the consumption of Alabama’s watermelon through appearances of the Alabama Watermelon Queen at various events and locations” ($25,000)

I know that cutting waste alone won’t get us very far in our efforts to cut the deficit, but getting rid of these absurdities is the least Congress could do this year.

Read the whole report here (with illustrations). It will likely make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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