In the storied tradition of Sen. William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award and Sen. Tom Coburn’s Wastebook, Sen. Rand Paul last week released his 2020 Festivus report to highlight Congress’s insatiable addiction to spending other people’s money.
The bipartisan disorder has advanced to a critical stage given that the national debt has soared to $27 trillion and the most recent “stimulus” bill has been held up in a dispute over special-interest pork.
Sen. Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, identifies some $54 billion — or more than $10,000 per taxpayer — in questionable appropriations.
■ The National Institutes for Health showered $1.327 million on three universities so researchers could study the health and physical effects of eating cricket powder. It’s all about global warming, see. The scientists argued that “the current pressures on global food security, including climate change … have ignited a search for more environmentally sustainable protein sources.” Never mind that, as Sen. Paul points out, the private sector has already begun delivering consumers alternatives to meat.
■ U.S. taxpayers gave the World Bank more than $1 billion last year even though a report by the agency ackowledged that a portion of that aid lines the pockets of foreign leaders. A February World Bank report concluded that “aid disbursements to highly aid-dependent countries coincide with sharp increases in bank deposits in offshore financial centers known for bank secrecy and private wealth management, but not in other financial centers.”
■ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent $13 million on programs that include helping yacht owners build docking facilities. Much of the money came from taxes levied on regular boaters and fisherman.
■ The National Science Foundation spent almost $200,000 to study how players compete in e-sport video games. Specifically, Sen. Paul points out, the researchers examined “how players choosing teams influences the team’s performance, and second, how ‘software and database patches disrupt mental models and decision-making.’ ”
■ The Washington Metro Transit Authority spent nearly $6 million to build three bike storage facilities. Yet the project took more than 10 years and ended up costing almost $22,000 per space created. A federal review concluded that the authority gave the job “to a company without checking if they could do it,” Sen. Paul reports.
The above list is but a tiny snapshot, of course. But it’s symptomatic of a larger problem — a problem manifesting itself in an entrenched political class that ignores constitutional constraints and manipulates the power of the purse to advance their own survival. “It is more important than ever for Congress to find its fiscal backbone,” Sen. Paul argues. “Our debt puts at risk the long-term solvency of major programs such as Social Security.”
The day of reckoning draws near.