Only Congress could believe that $40 million dollars is chump change. Just in time for tax day, this year’s 2016 Citizen’s Against Government Waste report shows just that.
The annual expose on pork-barrel spending reveals Congress setting aside $40 million dollars to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank, a move that has been opposed by the Department of Defense. In fact, 2,000, M1 tanks languish in the California desert even as Congress doles out more money for the very same model. The M1 tank was designed 36 years ago and while production facilities are based in Lima, Ohio, parts suppliers are located all over the country.
Congress put the kibosh on this kind of spending five years ago with a moratorium on the use of earmarks in 2011. Even so, the 2016 budget included 123 earmarks, up 17 percent from 2015. Spending, naturally, is rising, too, up 21 percent to $5.1 billion from the prior year. Total pork barrel spending since 1991, according to CAGW, is $323 billion, which is not chump change. CAGW’s most famous example of government waste was a program to test the health of shrimp by putting them on tiny treadmills. No kidding.
Some other examples of your wasted tax dollars: The East West Center in Hawaii. Using earmarks, Congress is plowing $5.9 million into the organization, the stated aim of which is to promote better relations with Pacific and Asian nations. It may sound good, but the center was established with no Congressional hearings and over the State Department’s objections.
And, then there’s the $163.9 million program to stop invasive aquatic plants. The government is designing underwater pesticides to kill what it regards as threats to the nation’s water supply. Might that not be a better job for private industry? And, finally, another $10 million is going to the Rural Electrification Administration, despite the fact that 98.7 percent of homes now have electricity.
It’s worth remembering as you sign your tax bill just how much of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars Congress continues to waste.