Sen. Rand Paul released his annual Festivus Report highlighting federal waste in the budget.
Festivus is a factious anti-consumerism holiday created by “Seinfeld” writers. Fans celebrate every Dec. 23.
The Kentucky Republican recognizes more than $54.7 billion in waste from 2020. The report does not include any money in the omnibus appropriations bill President Trump vetoed. The report highlights Pig Awards for health care, foreign aid, military, miscellaneous and environment, energy, science.
Paul’s top 10 includes:
- Despite spending 15 years and billions of dollars, American counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan are ineffective (Foreign Aid)
- The Fish and Wildlife Service is subsidizing yachting (Environment, Energy, Science)
- NIH paid to find out if hot tubbing can lower stress (Health Care)
- Using CARES Act funds, the FAA renovated a taxiway at the airport on Nantucket Island most often used by private jets (Miscellaneous)
- NIH paid researchers to interview San Franciscans about how they use edible cannabis (Health Care)
- FEMA paid for test tubes for COVID tests but received contaminated mini soda bottles (Miscellaneous)
- NIH paid researchers to develop methods to stop grown adults from binge-watching television (Health Care)
- DOD lost more than 100 drones over Afghanistan (Military)
- USAID is open to creating a venture capital fund in Bosnia & Herzegovina for bad investments (Foreign Aid)
- National Science Foundation ran lizards on a treadmill (Environment, Energy, Science).
The Department of Defense has spent $24 billion over decades trying unsuccessfully to replace the M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
DOD also repurposed $1 billion for COVID response funds for unrelated acquisitions. For example, the Navy spent the money buying propellers for ships, dress uniforms for the Army, and DOD bought remanufactured turbofan jet engine parts, among other things.
TAXPAYER DOLLARS WASTED: $25,768,400,000
Paul views the $16.5 billion Congress gave to states to take advantage of TANF rules for welfare as waste.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spent $20 million to construct a taxiway at Nantucket Memorial Airport an airport frequented most often by private jets of the rich and famous.
TAXPAYER DOLLARS WASTED: $16,779,764,179.50
The biggest loser, $3.5 billion, was the Veterans Administration waiting for years on undelivered orders.
TAXPAYER DOLLARS WASTED: $3,867,785,236.72
The Railroad Retirement Board spent $217million providing federal employees duplicative Medicare customer service access. RRB “claims the ‘higher level of customer service,’ which just amounts to a shorter wait time in a telephone queue, is worth $217 million of your tax dollars,” Paul said.
“To make matters worse, recently RRB has claimed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for Medicare as a whole, including Railroad Medicare, while CMS claims Railroad Medicare is RRB’s responsibility. Why does this matter? RRB punting responsibility to CMS is a tacit admission that Railroad Medicare is substantively the same as Medicare Part B, and that RRB-specific concerns do not play into Railroad Medicare at all.”
Paul cites the $8.6 billion spent on fighting drug export efforts in Afghanistan – over seven years – as the worst pork abuse.
TAXPAYER DOLLARS WASTED: $8,722,730,000.
ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY, SCIENCE
The Federal Transit Administration spent nearly $130 million buying public transit busses for localities.
A typical transit bus costs between $200,000 and $280,000, according to the senator and the average electric bus is roughly $750,000, and a fuel cell bus costs over $1 million. FTA is paying an upcharge of anywhere from $1.1 million to $250,000 per bus.
The Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), spent $13,546,889.40 tax dollars in Fiscal Year 2020 on programs including yacht subsidies.
TAXPAYER DOLLARS WASTED: $149,644,089.15