The federal government wastes a lot of money.
That’s what former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn believes and his successor, Sen. James Lankford is following up on Coburn’s efforts.
Sen. James Lankford introduced his “Federal Fumbles” list, a compilation of 100 government projects that Lankford says are “prime examples of wasteful spending.”
It also happens to call out one presidential hopeful: real estate magnate Donald Trump, whose new hotel project in Washington, D.C., housed in the Old Post Office Building, is the recipient of a tax credit for historic structures to the tune of $40 million.
“While the lucky guests of this palatial hotel will be awestruck by its glitz and glamour, taxpayers are unlikely to be amused that they helped foot the bill through a $40 million tax credit thanks to the National Historic Tax Credit,” Lankford wrote.
Lankford’s list singles out a Northern Virginia theater that has received almost $200,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts over the past four years: the Synetic Theater in Arlington, which frequently stages wordless adaptations of William Shakespeare plays.
“William Shakespeare was lauded for many things: his meter, his verse, his complicated characters. Generations of families have come together to enjoy productions of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays. … But was Polonius right in Hamlet when he said, ‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice’? Lankford asks in his “Fumbles” list. But the Synetic Theater says it’s only spent $35,000 in federal funds on silent Shakespeare performances in its 15-year history. And the theater also defended the art form.
“Our angle is different but still valuable as we use traditional physical techniques that are at the root of all theatre,” the theater’s marketing manager Alysa Turner said in an e-mail to ABC News.
Here is part of the list:
- The Department of Defense spent $42,718,739.00 for a gas station for compressed natural gas in Sheberghan, Afghanistan in 2009. It was closed in 2015 after wasting $766,000,000.00.
- The NEA also spent $25,000 on a grant to the Oscars Museum – a $388,000,000.00 project expected to open in 2017. In 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture and Science had a net asset balance of $231,500,000.00.
- The Internal Revenue Service gave $6,000,000,000.00 in “temporary” tax incentives (Wind Production Tax Credit) to an industry that is making money.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spent $6,000,000.00 to repair a building in San Pedro, California to house detainees. The building is still not considered usable.
- Government employees placed on leave for misconduct or other reasons were paid $3,100,000,000.00 from 2011 to 2013 while they did no work.
- The Department of Energy ordered dishwasher manufacturers to allow only 3.1 gallons for each wash load. In 2012, the ceiling was dropped from 6.5 gallons to 5 gallons. The new standard didn’t clean the dishes and the loads have to be run twice, requiring 6.2 gallons for one load.
- The National Institutes of Health paid $2,658,929 for a weight-loss program for truck drivers over four years.
- The NIH paid $48,500 to study the history of tobacco in Russia.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wasted $1,300,000,000.00 in settling claims by 1,900 hospitals on claims previously ruled “medically unnecessary.
- The Department of Defense spent $283,500.00 to study the California gnatcatcher and the ability of baby birds to fly.
- The Department of Defense spent $250,000,000.00 to train 60 Syrian rebels.
- The DOD still has $48,000,000.00 in military supplies for Yemen in a Virginia warehouse. That includes expired medical supplies and corroded batteries.
- The DOD spent $36,000,000.00 for an unnecessary 57,600-square-foot empty command center in Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
- The DOD spent $25,000,000.00 for research in curing breast cancer.
- The U.S. State Department paid $545,000.00 in 2014 for a seminar to teach its management how to “tell the truth.” The name of the course was “Communicating with Congress: Briefing and Testifying.”
- The State Department paid $25,000.00 to teach media ethics in India. It spent $250,000.00 for “biodiversity” in Morocco.
- In 2014, the State Department spent $700,000.00 to conserve a Buddhist temple in Vietnam, $40,000.00 to document Bengal folk music in India and $33,000.00 to preserve Jamdani weaving traditions in Bangladesh.
- The Department of State spends $5,000,000.00 on a Twitter account.
- The Food and Drug Administration cost Americans $1,000,000,000.00 for new mandatory menu and producing nutrition labeling. Grocery stores must now list the caloric values of prepared foods in their delis.
- The Department of Agriculture told a couple in Phoenix, Arizona, that they needed a license if they wanted to let visitors take photos of their llamas.
- The National Science Foundation spent $1,200,000.00 to teach a robot how to stylishly dress children and the elderly.
- The NSF spent $406,419.00 to determine, “Does media choice cause polarization or does polarization cause media choice?”
- The NSF spent $50,000.00 with The University of Michigan to study a “random number generator” to benefit casinos, among others.
- The Department of Transportation wants to limit the size and number of billboards in Times Square in New York.
- The Bureau of Land Management spent $67,900,000.00 for wild horse management. Lankford said this should be left to private groups or “alternatively give every American child a free pony on his or her 8th birthday (feed and saddle not included).”
- The Department of Transportation requires states to spend about 2 percent of their federal funding on a program called Transportation Alternatives – nonmotorized projects. That’s about $820,000,000.00 a year.
- The Environmental Protection Agency spent $59,000,000.00 over four years on “international species conservation” to study elephants, great apes and marine turtles abroad.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development spent $37,500,000.00 to encourage formation of labor unions overseas.
- The Department of Agriculture paid $35,000.00 to install solar panels on a brewery in Michigan.
- The National Park Service awarded $5,000 for a documentary on a fiddler in North Carolina to boost tourism.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development revealed that more than 25,000 families received public housing subsidies even though they were over the income limits.
- From 2006 to 2012, Amtrak lost $609,000,000.00 by subsidizing food and beverage service.
- Social Security files show that America has 6,500,000 people over the age of 112. The agency does not have an accurate record of who has died.
- The IRS paid out an estimated $17,700,000,000.00 erroneously in the Earned Income Tax Credit with an error rate of up to 28 percent. The IRS paid $5,200,000,000.00 in fraudulent identity theft refunds in 2013.