Costs Of Shutdown And Health Website Highlight 'Wastebook'

Dec 17, 2013

Older Two-Way readers will remember the monthly Golden Fleece Awards from former Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., who spotlighted ways the federal government was wasting money.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has picked up that mantle in recent years with his annual Wastebook.

On Tuesday, Coburn released his 2013 edition, where he points to:

-- "Obamacare [and] the failure of its $319 million website."

-- The $2 billion or so "to provide back pay to federal employees" who were furloughed during the 16-day partial government shutdown.

-- The destruction of $7 billion worth of vehicles and other military equipment in Afghanistan.

-- A slew of smaller expenditures that he says appear to have been of dubious value. They include: $10 million spent by the Army National Guard on a "soldier of steel" promotional campaigned tied to this year's Superman movie; nearly $1 million shelled out by the National Endowment of the Humanities to "explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs and Internet fan fiction;" and the grounding of a "mega-blimp" project after nearly $300 million was expended.

According to Coburn, his staff came up with "examples of wasteful and low-priority spending totaling more than $28 billion."

That is, for sure, a large number. But it's also about 0.7 percent of the $3.8 trillion the federal government spent for the year.

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