Friday, December 12, 2008

No Economic Slowdown on Capitol Hill

Despite all the cost-cutting and downsizing in the private sector as a response to the sluggish economy, Congressional spending habits remain as healthy as ever.

We're all well aware of the auto bailout and the financail market "rescue", but let's take a look at some other gems that have helped our representatives saddle us with a $10 trillion deficit.

From Senator Tom Coburn's (R-OK) "2008:Worst Waste of the Year Report:"

Search for extraterrestrial life - $9 million (California)
SETI pulled in another $1.6 million from the Department of Defense. The lack of response from outer space has not dampened the government's enthusiastic separation of tax and taxpayer.

Voicemail for the homeless - $15,000 (Ohio - part of a $1 million grant)
Compared to only $10,000 spent to provide "traditional housing for homeless single parents."

Tennis court and artificial baseball turf - $1 million (New York)
A followup to a $1 million grant in 2000 that went to waste due to park management's "notorious inability" to perform routine maintenance. Dorothy McCloskey, president of the park's oversight committee, has vowed that she "will not let another million dollars go to waste."

Portraits of Cabinet officers - $167,000
Spent on six (6) [half-dozen] {an extremely low number} hand-painted portraits of the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Commerce, the NASA Administrator, the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Director of the National Cancer Institute.

Bailout of Senate restaurants - $2 million
The restaurants lost $1.34 million last year and a total of $18.1 million since 1993. In fact, the restaurants have only shown a profit seven times in the last 44 years.

Remounting "World's Largest Mounted Fish" - $135,000 (New York)
Apparently, if it contains a superlative and is located anywhere in the U.S., it is up to the taxpayers to maintain it.

Remodeling train station - $1.9 million (New Jersey)
According to officials at the Rutherford Train Station, the funding has allowed them to meet the demand of up to 940 passengers a day.

Revitalization in Cleveland - $1.1 million (Ohio)
The government purchased 33 homes to renovate at prices well above market levels. The median housing price in Cleveland at the time was $15,000. Uncle Sam was able to pick the houses up at a cool $83,000 each, overpaying by nearly $1 million.

Low-income student program used for employee bonuses - $3 million (California)
The San Diego school district misused funds intended for nutritional programs to pay bonuses for employees leaving the district.

National Drug Intelligence Center - $39 million (Pennsylvania)
Despite being rocked by scandal and numerous Department of Justice attempts to shut it down, Congress still awarded this agency nearly $40 million in 2008.

Captain John Smith Water Trail - $446,500 (Virginia)
The nation's first trail that is completely under water.

Mississippi River Flood Memorial Plaza - $200,000 (Illinois)
New plaza is built in the middle of the flood plain.

"We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair – to drunken sailors. It would be unfair, because the sailors are spending their own money."
‐ Ronald Reagan on Congress

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