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Rand Paul Outlines $54 Billion in ‘Outlandish’ Government Waste in Annual Festivus Report

Sen. Rand Paul, (R., Ky.) speaks during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 24, 2020. (Tom Williams/Reuters)

Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday released his annual report outlining of billions of dollars in “truly outlandish” government waste.

This year’s “Festivus” waste report, a reference to the fictitious Seinfeld holiday’s “airing of grievances,” documented nearly $54,746,525,000 in money “totally wasted” by the government.

“Remember this the next time they tell you there’s ‘nothing to cut,'” the Kentucky Republican wrote Wednesday in a Twitter thread highlighting parts of the report.

Among Paul’s instances of waste were several health studies, including more than $36 million spent on studying why stress makes hair turn gray, more than $1 million spent studying whether people will eat ground-up bugs, and more than $3 million spent interviewing San Franciscans about their edible cannabis use.

As far as taxpayer dollars spent aiding other countries, $8.62 billion was spent in Afghanistan on counternarcotics efforts, more than $37 million was spent helping deal with truant Filipino youth, and more than $3 million was spent on sending Russians to American community colleges for a “gap year.”

Among funds spent on the environment, energy, and scientific research, more than $1 million was spent walking lizards on a treadmill, nearly $200,000 was spent studying how people cooperate while playing e-sport video games, and more than $2 million on developing a wearable headset to track eating behaviors.

The military had several particularly high expenditures this year that Paul listed as waste, including repurposing $1 billion in coronavirus response funds for unrelated acquisitions, more than $ 715 million in lost equipment designated for Syrians fighting ISIS, and $174 million on drones that were lost over Afghanistan.

Other eyebrow-raising expenses included more than $4 million spent on spraying alcoholic rats with bobcat urine, more than $10 million spent on would-be coronavirus test tubes that turned up as used soda bottles, and nearly $6 million spent building three bicycle storage facilities at Washington, D.C. Metro stations.

In 2020, “Congress spent as never before, doing so ostensibly without a care,” the report reads. “Some of that is traceable to COVID-related spending, but a lot of it was not.”

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