News & Politics

Happy Festivus! Rand Paul Releases 'Waste Report' on Government Spending

Senator Rand Paul released his annual “Festivus Edition” of his Waste Report on government spending this past week and, as usual, the senator highlighted some of the dumbest, craziest, and most maddening examples of wasteful spending.


 “Happy Festivus! Is 2018 over already? It was just yesterday the national debt was pushing $20 trillion, and now it’s blown $21 trillion away!” the senator cracked a joke in the opening of his report. “What a year!”

Indeed 2018 was one for the record books. Paul outlined $114,514,631 in wasteful expenditures, including:

  • Providing stipends to soldiers in the Somali National Army (State): $76,321,379
  • Promoting the already overcrowded farmers market industry (USDA): $13,400,000
  • Teaching Rwandan special interest groups and citizens how to lobby (State): $250,000
  • Using theater to combat homelessness and poverty (NEA): $15,000
  • Studying the sexual habits of quails on cocaine (NIH): $874,503
  • Funding a fictionalized opera about Prince Harry (NEA): $15,000
  • Making videos marketing U.S. colleges to Indian students (State): $75,000
  • Blowing leaf blowers at lizards (NSF): $75,691
  • Supporting “legislative priorities” in Libya (State): $1,000,000
  • Putting on plays in Afghanistan (State): $200,000
  • Studying horse and donkey hunting on the ancient Anatolian Peninsula (NSF): $361,891
  • Supporting Egyptian tourism (State): $18,000,000
  • Paying to bring British student social activists to the U.S. (State): $200,000
  • Encouraging people in the Republic of the Congo to use local resources (State): $35,000
  • Studying daydreaming (NIH): $2,488,153
  • Conceptualizing games in India (State): $50,000
  • Paying for museum trips in Bosnia & Herzegovina for Bosnians & Herzegovinians (State): $50,000
  • Developing a Pashto-language TV drama series for Afghanistan (State): $653,014
  • Teaching female entrepreneurs in India how to “vlog” (State): $50,000
  • Supporting asset seizure programs in Paraguay (State): $400,000

I suppose that somewhere, somebody thought this spending was a brilliant idea. Most of us don’t. The point being, there are thousands upon thousands of these line items in the budget from every government department, every government agency, every government board, and every government panel — temporary, permanent, semi-permanent, ad-hoc, or otherwise.

Part of the solution is to give the president line item veto power. But really, when it comes down to it, it is voters who hold the power in their hands. We don’t hold our representatives accountable for this waste, so they keep wasting money. Year after year no one bothers to ask the very simple, direct question: “Is this spending necessary?” Failing that, perhaps an even better question would be: “Is this something the national government should be spending money on?”

I know those are silly, naive questions and it’s a pipe dream to think that congressmen even care. But would we really have a $900 billion deficit and a national debt over $21 trillion if those questions were asked?