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Wastebook: Senator Lankford Releases 'Federal Fumbles' Report


Sen. Lankford's "Federal Fumbles" report sheds light on the waste, fraud, and abuse rampant in the federal government that hardworking Americans are paying for with their tax dollars.

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

  • $37 million to promote labor unions around the world.
  • $2.6 million on a weight-loss program for truck drivers.
  • $25,000 for a museum in Hollywood.
  • $250,000 for the green energy industry – in Morocco.

These are just a few of the highlights (or lowlights) included in the first annual “Federal Fumbles” report from the office of freshman Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

Sen. Lankford has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Sen. Tom Coburn, releasing a report detailing “100 ways the government dropped the ball” – instances of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars that took place in the federal government this year.

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Overall, Federal Fumbles totals to $105 billion in federal spending and about $800 billion in regulatory impact to the economy.

Americans know that Washington, D.C. is a black hole of dysfunction and inefficiency. But the boondoggles in the Wastebook shed light on specific examples that show just how little accountability actually exists in much of the government’s spending of our tax dollars.

With the national debt careening toward $19 trillion and the government set to run up another half-a-trillion dollar deficit this year, it seems as though Washington spends with reckless abandon, while outside the Beltway millions struggle to make ends meet.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise then, that most of the wealthiest counties in America are those that surround Washington, D.C. – undoubtedly a result of the largesse of the federal government.

Meanwhile, for the rest of the country not bolstered by federal tax dollars, labor force participation mires at a level not seen since "Star Wars" debuted in the 1970s. Median family income staggers at mid-1990s levels. Social mobility and opportunity seem harder and harder to come by, especially for those most in need.

And yet Americans worked 114 days into the year just to pay for government. They sent a record $3.3 trillion to Washington, which is significantly more than they paid for clothing and food, combined.

Flush with cash and clearly lacking in meaningful oversight, accountability, or empathy, the government spent $142 million on bonuses for bureaucrats at the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs; $43 million on a gas station in Afghanistan; $65,000 to study what happens to bugs when the lights go out.

As Washington spending, taxation, and regulation increase, opportunity for Americans outside the Beltway decreases. Moreover, as government gets increasingly involved in things it has no business being involved in, it becomes even more inept at the things it actually should be doing.

“Federal Fumbles” makes clear that Washington is badly in need of a dose of reality – a re-assessment of priorities, better oversight in spending, and more accountability for government bureaucrats.

Common-sense steps like returning to regular order, enacting zero-based budgeting, and reforming collective bargaining would go a long way toward making the government more efficient and accountable to those who pay for it.

Most Americans are more than willing to send a portion of their hard-earned dollars to Washington to fund the core functions of the federal government. But obviously, that is not what is on display in Sen. Lankford’s report.

Americans for Prosperity and our allies will continue to try to give taxpayers around the country a voice in their federal government and an avenue through which to hold Washington accountable. In this pursuit of limited and responsible government, we should be thankful for fiscal hawks like Sen. Lankford and his staff who expose the taxpayer-funded waste, fraud, and abuse that surely many in government would prefer to be papered over and hidden from us.

“Federal Fumbles” should serve as another call to action for taxpayers across America. It is only through the voice and vigilance of voters and taxpayers that bureaucrats in Washington will feel any sense of a watchful eye, and perhaps think twice before the next time they spend $48,000 to study the history of tobacco use in Russia.

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