Promoting freedom, innovation, and growth

Connect with IPI

Receive news, research, and updates

December 11, 2012

If This Wasteful Federal Spending Doesn't Make You Angry, You're Dead


Washington is still agonizing over the "fiscal cliff" and how to raise tax rates even while it shovels money out the door on wasteful and useless projects that no one but a few rent seekers could defend.

And yet Republicans, most of whom say they don't want to raise taxes, have not identified any cuts in federal spending-except for maybe $400 billion from Medicare, after repeatedly criticizing President Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) told the press recently that he could cut $600 billion in federal spending overnight and no one would notice but a few people in Washington. Well, let's give him the chance.

Coburn recently released his "Waste Book 2012"-all 202 pages of it-in which he highlights billions of dollars in silly and wasteful federal spending. Here is National Journal's top ten. 

  • $325,000 for an effort to build a lifelike Robo-Squirrel.
  • $27 million for a project that included pottery classes for Moroccan artists translated by someone who was not fluent in English-and using materials that cannot be purchased in Morocco.
  • Almost $50,000 for Smokey the Bear hot-air balloon appearances.
  • $505,000 in block grants for a pet shampoo and toothpaste company.
  • $520,000 for an Ohio bridge that doesn't connect to a road or trail.
  • $40,000 for a video game based on Thoreau's writings at Walden Pond.
  • More than $540,000 for a dancing robot that DJs smartphones.
  • Nearly $68,000 for a "Students Against Trash" poster campaign.
  • $6.9 million for research into making rubber-free tires from natural materials.
  • $35,000 for a book vending machine.

If Republicans highlighted such egregious spending items the public, even those who would support Obama's "Wealth Tax" (to use an FDR phrase), would say cut the wasteful spending first. Instead, Republicans passively nod their heads when Obama demands new revenues.

Federal wasteful spending is the Republicans best weapon against a tax increase. But so far they have chosen to fight the battle unarmed.


  • TaxBytes-New

Copyright Institute for Policy Innovation 2018. All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy Contact IPI.

e-resources e-resources