Senator Tom Coburn points to “robosquirrels” and others in wasteful spending
Senator Tom Coburn, Oklahoma, has released his “Wastebook 2012.” In it he points to 100 “wasteful” items passed by Congress. He believes cutting the tax loopholes and programs could save $18.9 billion (Yes, I know we have a $16 trillion deficit, but $18.9 billion is a lot to me). Congress allows the NFL to file their tax return as a “non-for profit organization” exempting the league from paying federal taxes. The report states: “Hardworking taxpayers should not be forced to offset tax giveaways to lucrative professional sports and leagues.” The report estimates getting rid of the loophole would bring an additional $91 million into the treasury. Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, said the league office itself “is classified as a not-for-profit under the tax code because the league office makes no profit.” He said the teams make the profits and they are taxed. I don’t think the billion dollar league is a non-for profit organization. The entire point of the league is to provide entertainment while profiting from games.
Another wacky wasteful spending is in which NASA is funding to develop meals for a Mars mission that may not take place for decades. As much as I like to be ahead of other countries in terms of scientific innovation, I think we have some more pertinent economic issues to worry about. Coburn’s report also details funding for “robosquirrels.” There is a National Science Foundation grant for $325,000 for university researchers in California to develop a robotic squirrel to observe how rattlesnakes react and to study the interaction between predators and prey. In case you are wondering the snakes appeared to accept the “robosquirrels” as real with one snake even biting off its head.
Additionally, the study is critical of the continued production of the copper penny, which now costs more than two cents to make. The government also spent $516,000 on a video game that simulates the social experience of attending a prom, $31,000 for Smokey Bear balloons to make appearances at balloon festivals, $300,000 to promote domestically produced caviar and $268 million spent on a loophole for paper manufacturers that allows them to claim a waste byproduct is an alternative energy source.
The report also cites $27 million spent by the U.S. Agency for International Development to train Moroccans to make and sell pottery around the world. A noble cause indeed, however the report cited a USAID inspector general report, that says the program was perforated with problems, including having a translator at classes who was not fluent in English and by using dyes and clay not available in that country.
The senator blames Congress for allowing such wasteful spending. He describes them “as deeply ineffectual and disliked by the American people.” Instead of tackling the real issues of America and passing substantive legislation our U.S. Congress is on vacation, AGAIN! I think we can all agree that for the most part our politicians have failed us.
Looking forward to this next election.
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate