Where can we cut? How about starting here

I got this from a great article at the Heritage Foundation. It’s a long list but very enlightening. If you ever wonder about where the government can save money, here’s a good starting point:

  • Immediately before the current recession, Washington spent $24,800 per household. Simply returning to that level (adjusted for inflation) would likely balance the budget by 2019 without any tax hikes.
  • The federal government made at least $98 billion in improper payments in 2009.
  • Washington spends $92 billion on corporate welfare (excluding TARP) versus $71 billion on homeland security.
  • Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties.
  • Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them—costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually—fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.
  • The Congressional Budget Office published a “Budget Options” series identifying more than $100 billion in potential spending cuts.
  • Because of overstaffing, the U.S. Postal Service selects 1,125 employees per day to sit in empty rooms. They are not allowed to work, read, play cards, watch television, or do anything. This costs $50 million annually.
  • Washington will spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.
  • Stimulus dollars have been spent on mascot costumes, electric golf carts, and a university study examining how much alcohol college freshmen women require before agreeing to casual sex.
  • Examples from multiple Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports of wasteful duplication include 342 economic development programs; 130 programs serving the disabled; 130 programs serving at-risk youth; 90 early childhood development programs; 75 programs funding international education, cultural, and training exchange activities; and 72 safe water programs.
  • A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled. Examples include gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, iPods, Xboxes, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations. In one extraordinary example, the Postal Service spent $13,500 on one dinner at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, including “over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.” The 81 guests consumed an average of $167 worth of food and drink apiece.
  • Improper or fraudulent Medicare spending now totals $47 billion annually—12.4 percent of its budget.
  • New York distributed $140 million in stimulus money into the individual accounts of families on welfare, yet neglected to mention it was intended for school supplies. Local ATMs were depleted, and much of the money was reportedly spent on “flat screen TV’s, iPods and video gaming systems” as well as “cigarettes and beer.”
  • Washington will spend $615,175 on an archive honoring the Grateful Dead.
  • Federal employees owe more than $3 billion in income taxes they failed to pay in 2008.
  • Each month, taxpayers provide $40,000 worth of office space, cell phones, staff, and an SUV for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who currently works as a lobbyist for private corporations and foreign governments.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her staff have charged taxpayers $101,000 forin-flight services”—including food and liquor—during trips on Air Force jets over the last two years. Charges reportedly include “Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, and Corona beer.”
  • The Legal Services Corporation, which is supposed to provide legal services to the poor, has repeatedly ignored warnings to stop spending its money on alcohol. It also funds limousines, first-class airfare, and “death by Chocolate” pastries for its executives.
  • The Department of Energy spent nine years and $153 million on an obsolete cyber-security project that was supposed to safeguard America’s nuclear weapons information.
  • The stimulus set aside $350 million for a national broadband coverage map—even though one private firm stated it could create one for $3.5 million.
  • Fannie Mae—now backed up by taxpayers—paid $6.3 million in legal defense costs for ousted executives such as Franklin Raines. An additional $16.8 million was spent defending Fannie Mae’s regulators in litigation against the former executives.
  • The Census Bureau spent $2.5 million on Super Bowl ads, and on-air mentions by sportscasters.
  • New documents reveal that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lost 1,000 computers in 2008. Not to be outdone, Homeland Security officers lost nearly 200 guns in places like restaurant restrooms, convenience stores, and bowling alleys. Several of the guns ended up in the hands of criminals.
  • The State Department will spend $450,000 on art shows in Venice, Italy.
  • During a recent three-day conference, NASA spent $62,611 on “light refreshments” for its 317 attendees—$66 per day per person. NASA officials said such expensive snacks were needed to keep its officials from wandering away from the conference.
  • NASA spent $500 million constructing a 355-foot steel tower to launch a rocket that is now unlikely to ever be built.
  • The Congressional Research Service has confirmed that the new health care law may subsidize Viagra and other sexual performance drugs for convicted rapists and sex offenders.
  • Federal agencies are delinquent on nearly 20 percent of employee travel charge cards, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission spent $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
  • Over half of all farm subsidies go to commercial farms, which report average household incomes of $200,000.
  • A GAO audit found that 95 Pentagon weapons systems suffered from a combined $295 billion in cost overruns.
  • The refusal of many federal employees to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 million annually in flight upgrades.
  • Washington spent $126 million in 2009 on projects associated with the Kennedy family legacy in Massachusetts. Additionally, Senator John Kerry (D–MA) diverted $20 million from the 2010 defense budget to subsidize a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
  • The federal government owns more than 50,000 vacant homes.
  • The Federal Communications Commission spent $350,000 to sponsor NASCAR driver David Gilliland.
  • Members of Congress have spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars supplying their offices with popcorn machines, plasma televisions, DVD equipment, ionic air fresheners, camcorders, and signature machines—plus $24,730 leasing a Lexus, $1,434 on a digital camera, and $84,000 on personalized calendars.
  • More than $13 billion in Iraq aid has been classified as wasted or stolen. Another $7.8 billion cannot be accounted for.
  • Congress recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737.
  • The Transportation Department will subsidize up to $2,000 per flight for direct flights between Washington, D.C., and the small hometown of Congressman Hal Rogers (R–KY)—but only on Monday mornings and Friday evenings, when lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists usually fly. Rogers is a member of the Appropriations Committee, which writes the Transportation Department’s budget.
  • Washington has spent $3 billion re-sanding beaches—even as this new sand washes back into the ocean.
  • The Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused flight tickets and never bothered to collect refunds even though the tickets were refundable.
  • Washington spends $60,000 per hour shooting Air Force One photo-ops in front of national landmarks.
  • Congress has ignored efficiency recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services that would save $9 billion annually.
  • Taxpayers are funding paintings of high-ranking government officials at a cost of up to $50,000 apiece.
  • The state of Washington sent $1 food stamp checks to 250,000 households in order to raise state caseload figures and trigger $43 million in additional federal funds.
  • Suburban families are receiving large farm subsidies for the grass in their backyards—subsidies that many of these families never requested and do not want.
  • Homeland Security employee purchases include 63-inch plasma TVs, iPods, and $230 for a beer brewing kit.
  • The National Institutes of Health spends $1.3 million per month to rent a lab that it cannot use.
  • Congress recently spent $2.4 billion on 10 new jets that the Pentagon insists it does not need and will not use.
  • Lawmakers diverted $13 million from Hurricane Katrina relief spending to build a museum celebrating the Army Corps of Engineers—the agency partially responsible for the failed levees that flooded New Orleans.
  • Medicare officials recently mailed $50 million in erroneous refunds to 230,000 Medicare recipients.
  • Audits showed $34 billion worth of Department of Homeland Security contracts contained significant waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • The Advanced Technology Program spends $150 million annually subsidizing private businesses; 40 percent of this funding goes to Fortune 500 companies.
  • The Conservation Reserve program pays farmers $2 billion annually not to farm their land.

Read the whole article…

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