"Seinfeld" fans know that the faux holiday "Festivus" is a time for the airing of grievances. Well, this year Sen. Rand Paul’s grievances amount to about $54 billion.
"I got a lotta problems with federal spending," Paul writes in his report, "and now you’re gonna hear about it!"
The senator estimates the government wastes about $10,000 per taxpayer per year.
In addition to identifying what he views as waste, Paul also provides suggestions for how the money could have been spent more wisely.
According to Paul:
More than $25 billion has been wasted on military expenses. In Afghanistan, the senator notes, the U.S. military lost $174 million in drone equipment and spent more than $23 billion trying unsuccessfully to develop a replacement for the M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
More than $16 billion has been wasted on "miscellaneous" expenses. The total includes nearly $20 million to finance a taxiway for airplanes on Nantucket Island and more than $10 million for a botched order for COVID test tubes.
More than $8.7 billion has been wasted on foreign aid. Included here, Paul says, was $37.5 million to help the Philippines deal with truant youths; and $8.6 billion for counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan.
More than $3 billion has been wasted on health care items. For example, he notes that nearly $7 million in cancer research money was used to develop a "smart toilet," and more than $2 million was spent to see if using a hot tub can help people lower stress.
Nearly $150 million has been wasted on the environment, energy and science. These expenses included $1.5 million to examine lizards walking on treadmills, and $2 million to develop a wearable headset for tracking eating behavior.
Paul’s report is in the tradition of the "Golden Fleece Awards," which the late U.S. Sen. William Proxmire, R-Wis., issued for many years, in hopes of drawing attention to what he viewed as profligate spending by lawmakers in Washington. (Proxmire served in the Senate from 1957-1989 and died in 2005 at age 90.)
The new report also comes on the heels of the latest giant spending plan by Congress, the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill that lawmakers approved this week – and sent to President Trump in hopes that he’ll sign it into law.
But Trump on Tuesday night noted the plan includes lots of allocations for foreign governments and other non-Covid-related spending, which he suggested were unnecessary – while limiting direct stimulus payments to struggling Americans to $600 rather than the $2,000 the president prefers.
Paul was among six GOP senators to vote against the stimulus bill, calling it a "spending monstrosity."
"When you vote to pass out free money, you lose your soul and you abandon forever any semblance of moral or fiscal integrity," he said, targeting fellow Republicans who backed the plan.
Sen. Paul’s complete report, which includes links to news articles documenting the spending he describes, can be found here.