U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new oversight report, "Wastebook 2010" that highlights some of the most egregious examples of government waste in 2010.
"As 2010 ends, millions of Americans are still struggling to find work. Even those lucky enough to have jobs have had to tighten their belts. Yet, Congress continues to find new and extravagant ways to waste tax dollars. In today's economy, we can't afford to spend nearly $2 million to showcase neon signs no longer in use at Las Vegas Casinos, nor can Congress and federal agencies afford to spend nearly $1 billion a year on unnecessary printing costs," Dr. Coburn said.
"Our national debt is the greatest threat to our national security according to our own military leaders," Dr. Coburn added. "Well-intentioned people across the political spectrum will argue about the best way to get us back on track. But we can all agree that cutting wasteful and low priority spending from the budget is not only sensible, but essential."
"I hope this report will give taxpayers and concerned citizens the information they need to hold Washington accountable. As dysfunctional as our politics can seem, our system still works when ordinary citizens get informed and engaged," Dr. Coburn said.
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in "Wastebook 2010" include:
* The city of Las Vegas has received a $5.2 million federal grant to build the Neon Boneyard Park and Museum, including $1.8 million in 2010. For over the last decade, Museum supporters have gathered and displayed over 150 old Las Vegas neon signs, such as the Golden Nugget and Silver Slipper casinos.
* The National Science Foundation provided more than to $200,000 to study of why political candidates make vague statements.
* The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends $175 million every year to maintain hundreds of buildings it does not use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio.
* Medicare paid out over $35 million to a vast network of 118 "phantom" medical clinics, allegedly established by members of a criminal gang to submit phony reimbursement claims.
* The Government Printing Office (GPO) is using a "video game space mouse" (and nearly $60,000 in taxpayer funds) to teach children the history of printing.
* In July, nearly half a million taxpayer dollars went to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, where wine tasting and castle tours were among the events planned for the conference participants.
* The Internal Revenue Service paid out $112 million in undeserved tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent returns, according to the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
* The National Science Foundation directed nearly a quarter million dollars to a Stanford University professor's study of how Americans use the Internet to find love.
* The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took the term "cold case" to a new level in 2010. The agency spent over $20,000 in taxpayer money "to unravel the anonymity of a 2,500-year-old mummy."
* The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent nearly $442,340 million to study the number of male prostitutes in Vietnam and their social setting.
* This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the "first-of-its kind" promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After. "
* The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded over $600,000 to the Minnesota Zoo to create a wolf "avatar" video game called "WolfQuest."
* A $700,000 federal grant paid for researchers to examine "greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies, which are cause by cow burps, among other things."