Federal Budget Needs Haircut, With Garden Shears


Senator Tom Coburn’s 2013 “Wastebook”

I never know whether to be amused or annoyed when a politician, in addressing DC’s culture of runaway spending, claims that there just isn’t “anything left to cut”. We searched everywhere in our $3.5 trillion budget, Mr. Taxpayer, but as our Headmistress of Profligacy and Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi says, “the cupboard is bare”. The cupboard is bare, to be sure. But she speaks less of the budget, and more of the National Wallet. It had to be taken out back and 86’ed years ago. It sleeps with the fishes. Requiescat in pace.

Thankfully, there is respite from the Land of Misfit Budgeteers to be found in the third annual “Wastebook” published by Senator Tom Coburn, (R), unveiled Tuesday. He details low hanging fruit to be picked throughout the budget, be it wasteful non-Defense discretionary spending, or even mismanaged assets at the Pentagon, a traditional Republican sacred cow:

  • 2000 MRAP’s-Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles- are being left behind in Afghanistan, and not redeployed to new bases, at a cost per vehicle of $500,000. Total loss: $1 billion.
  • 21 new C-27 transport planes mothballed after Air Force testimony stating they didn’t want the plane after the sequester. Total loss: $631 million

Let us not pick on the Pentagon, here. Non-defense discretionary spending is as egregious.

  • The State Department spent $630,000 driving traffic to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

You know, to keep up on Hillary’s latest pant-suit or see a running tally of American pastor Saeed Abedini’s days spent in Iranian captivity.

  • NASA is spending $3 million to study how Congress works.

Why our aeronautical and formerly space agency got this task is uncertain. As powerful as the Hubble is,  it will never manage to peer into Congress’ collective head and find signs of life, let alone intelligent function.

  • National Endowment for the Humanities spent one million to explore the origins of popular romance in multimedia.

These days, popular “romance” begins with a guy leaving a note for the woman with whom he had a one-night stand, and ends with never seeing her again. It was the least he could do. But this is of national importance because…why again? Will it lead to Congress banning “Two Broke Girls”, a show where the most romantic gesture a guy could think of would be ponying up for a box of condoms, so the gal doesn’t have to? If so, disregard my bloviating, and take a million more out of petty cash for good measure.

It goes on, but I treasure the feeling in my fingers so I’ll spare you any additional treatment. Moral of the story: the cupboard contains all sorts of goodies, Pelosi’s feeble ruminations to the contrary.

Time to clean house.



About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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