Sen. Tom Coburn Releases 5th Annual 'Wastebook'

Friday, October 24th 2014, 7:18 pm
By: News 9

US Senator Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, didn't just speak out about wasteful federal spending, he highlighted it in such a way that taxpayers couldn't help but stand slack-jawed in disbelief.

He's done it again.

Swedish massage for rabbits? Getting paid to watch grass grow? Teaching monkeys to gamble?

These are but a few of what Sen. Coburn and his staff deemed to be the 100 worst examples of wasteful Washington spending in the past year. You can read all about them in "Wastebook 2014: What Washington doesn't want you to read."

This is fifth consecutive year Sen. Coburn has published a government 'Wastebook' and will likely be his last, since he's retiring at the end of the year.

In a message at the beginning of the report, Coburn said it "gives a snapshot of just a fraction of countless frivolous projects the government funded in the past twelve months with borrowed money and your tax dollars."

Among the projects cited in the report:

  • $19 million to pay the salaries of government employees placed on administrative leave, one third of whom are there for disciplinary reasons
  • $387,000 for a study at Ohio State University where rabbits receive Swedish massage after exercise in order to see if it helps muscles to recover
  • $10,000 for a project in Florida where people are paid, among other things, to monitor the growth of certain grasses
  • $171,000 for a National Science Foundation Study to determine whether monkeys have a penchant for gambling similar to humans
  • $500,000 for a USDA grant to the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town in Oklahoma to start a butterfly farm

Sen. Coburn called the projects, which totaled about $25 billion, "silly, unnecessary, and low priority."

In an interview that aired on CBS News, Coburn responded to a question about one of the projects -- a class on laughing at UCLA that cost taxpayers $47,000.

"Laughing classes, we're paying people to teach people how to laugh," said Coburn. "There's a lot of serious problems in this country -- maybe the reason people aren't laughing is the government's so inept."

Coburn said he does believe his Wastebook reports are making a difference. He said they have helped raise awareness among citizens, and he said they have prevented some wasteful projects from getting off the ground.

A good example, he said -- after his staff called the State Department to ask about a plan to create a life-sized inflatable foosball game, they learned that the project was scrapped.