Rabbit Massages? Lawmaker Slams Stupid Spending
WASHINGTON -- Wasteful government spending is as out of control as ever.
A new report released by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., exposes billions of dollars of taxpayer money being tossed around for outrageous projects.
The annual "Wastebook" cites example after example of abuse, including the following:
- $10,000 to watch grass grow at a Florida reserve
- $19 million in paid vacations for government workers, about a third of whom were placed on "administrative leave" for disciplinary reasons, including criminal offenses
- $350 million to build a launch pad tower that was mothballed immediately because the rockets it was designed to test had been scrapped years ago
- $1 billion for the Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition
While this Congress has been dubbed the least productive in 60 years -- with fewer laws passed than any other in a half century -- its lack of productivity is no match for its prolific spending.
Sen. Coburn is known as one of Capitol Hill's most ardent crusaders against pork barrel spending for lawmakers' special pet projects. His fifth edition outlines 100 projects totaling $25 billion.
"It comes at a time when few people trust government to tackle the big, important problems. The examples detailed in the report make it easy to see why," the Oklahoma lawmaker wrote in the National Review Online.
His examples range from the absurd to the outlandish, like the State Department using part of its $3 million counterterrorism communications budget to debate terrorists on Twitter.
Then there's the downright zany:
- $856,000 to train mountain lions to run and walk on a treadmill
- $50,000 on synchronized swimming lessons for sea monkeys
- $387,000 to measure the effects of Swedish massage on New Zealand white rabbits
Watch below as taxpayers weigh in on the wisdom of federally funded rabbit massages:
Watchdogs say the report exposes Washington's failure of leadership.
"The first degree of responsibility lies with Congress because they are authorizing spending on these programs," noted Emily Goff, a policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "And then you also have to blame the administration - all the federal agencies that are not focusing their limited federal resources on truly national priorities."
Goff proposes the creation of a commission authorized to reduce government waste. Until we do, she says with a federal debt of nearly $18 trillion, America's future is at risk.
"We're asking future generations, our children and grandchildren, to pay for that debt," Goff told CBN News. "I think that this Wastebook really highlights the need to get our debt and deficits under control."
Meanwhile, Coburn is calling taxpayers to hold their elected officials accountable.
"I hope every taxpayer takes the time to glance through the Wastebook and asks the question: Is each of these items a true national priority, or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need - or not spent at all, to reduce the burden of debt to be paid off by our children and grandchildren?" Sen. Coburn wrote.
"I have learned from these experiences that Washington will never change itself. But even if the politicians won't stop stupid spending, taxpayers always have the last word," he said.