I saw this week where President Barack Obama was giving 5 percent of his $400,000 per year salary back to the U.S. Treasury.
This is a show of solidarity with all those federal employees toiling under the “sequester” – the forced budget cuts made necessary because he and Congress couldn’t come together on a budget plan.
(First of all, I feel compelled to repeatedly point out that despite the sequester, the government will spend more in fiscal year 2013 than it did in 2012. The $85 billion sequester was not a cut. It was a reduction in the growth of the budget. But I digress.)
I think the President’s gesture is commendable and I was happy to see him do it.
Having said that, even more commendable would be for him to become a budget leader and admonish the government to stop spending crazy money on stupid stuff.
Just this week details of a “stimulus grant” were released by the government. This one hit pretty close to home because the money went to Indiana University in Bloomington.
You remember the stimulus. It was $800 billion injected into the economy in the name of job creation and economic growth. Depending on who you ask, it was a raging success or a dismal failure.
Obama critics say it didn’t work because economic growth remains slow and unemployment remains high.
But Obama fans will tell you things would have been be much worse without the stimulus and the only reason we haven’t fully recovered is because it wasn’t big enough.
I guess I would have to fall on the critic side of that argument, which brings me back to I.U. and its stimulus grant.
Seems the university got $423,000 in stimulus dollars to study condom use.
The study, “Barriers to Correct Condom Use,” is now complete.
According to the federal study, “This project is one of the first to examine under controlled conditions the role of cognitive and affective factors and condom skills in explaining condom use problems in young, heterosexual adult men.”
The stimulus project yielded a total of 0.00 jobs, according to the government report.
Yeah, but $423K is peanuts.
How about stimulus funds for broadband?
Remember when President Obama was talking about expanding access to broadband Internet service? That’s a worthy goal.
An outfit called Navigant Economics examined the stimulus subsidization of rural broadband.
The government boasted “the largest Federal subsidies ever provided for broadband construction in the U.S.” The goal was to extend broadband access to homes currently without it.
So how much do you supposed it cost to get these folks broadband access? In northwestern Kansas and northeastern Minnesota, it was $349,234 per household. That happened to be exponentially more than the income of those households and way more than the cost of the houses themselves.
But that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to one area in southwestern Montana.
Here’s what forbes.com wrote about the Montana project:
The area is not in any meaningful sense unserved or even underserved. As many as seven broadband providers, including wireless, operate in the area. Only 1.5% of all households in the region had no wireline access. And if you include 3G wireless, there were only seven households in the Montana region that could be considered without access. So the cost of extending access in the Montana case comes to about $7 million for each additional household served.
Seven households – 7.
And since these projects were completed by showering money on existing service providers, virtually no new jobs were created.
Oh, well.
And as ludicrous as all the “stimulus” waste was – billions in green energy bankruptcys, et. al. – the routine government waste is no better.
Citizens Against Government Waste  tracks such things. Here are some examples:
$255,000,000 for continued upgrade of the M1 Abrams tank to the M1A2SEP variant, despite DOD’s proposal to suspend tank production until 2017 in order to achieve savings.
$239,000,000 for five Defense Department earmarks funding peer-reviewed cancer research, including studies on breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. Worthy research, but Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012 provided $5.1 billion for the National Cancer Institute, making the earmarks in this bill redundant.
$120,000,000 for three earmarks of $40,000,000 each for alternative energy research within the Air Force, Army and Navy. As a result, according to Sen. John McCain, the Navy has spent in excess of $400 per gallon for approximately 20,000 gallons of algae- based biofuel.
$50,000,000 for the National Guard for Counter-Drug Program state plans. Formerly earmarked to individual states. Nice, but the Drug Enforcement Administration, with a budget of $2 billion, is already responsible for these activities.
$111,099,000 for flood control by the Army Corps of Engineers, $9 million of which will go to “ongoing projects.” Since 1996, CAGW has unveiled 320 Corps of Engineers flood control earmarks worth a total of $523.4 million.
$48,500,000 for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC), which is more than the President’s $44.5 million budget request. The NDCP has received six earmarks worth a total of $197.4 million since FY 2005, including $105 million in that year.
I could go on and on.
Seriously, I could literally fill every column inch of newshole in this edition of this newspaper with a chronicle of government waste.
The result?
As a nation, we’re broke.
We’re broke and important social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are teetering on the brink of insolvency.
Yet our elected leaders in Washington can’t summon up the courage to stop spending tax dollars like drunken gamblers on a Las Vegas bender.