The Government Wastes Billions of Tax Dollars on Pork Projects, but Can’t Seem to Scrape Up $5 Billion for Border Security

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) puts out an annual Pig Book; a compilation of the year’s biggest porkers (spenders) in government.  Go to their site and read over some of the ways in which elected officials spend our money.

Take your blood pressure meds before you read this shit. This is the reason why this country has such a high national debt; because of the feckless assholes in Congress.

From Citizens Against Government Waste:

The Congressional Pig Book is CAGW’s annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget. A “pork” project is a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures. To qualify as pork, a project must meet one of seven criteria that were developed in 1991 by CAGW and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition.

It should come as no surprise that the dam burst on earmarks in fiscal year (FY) 2018.  Congress had set the stage for a significant increase in every category of spending when the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018 was approved on February 8, 2018.  This legislation obliterated the spending caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and increased spending by $143 billion, or 13.4 percent, in FY 2018 compared to FY 2017.

Citizens Against Government Waste’s (CAGW) 2018 Congressional Pig Book exposes 232 earmarks in FY 2018, an increase of 42.3 percent from the 163 in FY 2017.  The cost of earmarks in FY 2018 is $14.7 billion, an increase of 116.2 percent from the $6.8 billion in FY 2017, or nearly nine times greater than the increase in discretionary spending.  The only other time the cost has at least doubled was FYs 1992-1993.  Since FY 1991, CAGW has identified 110,861 earmarks costing $344.5 billion.

The $14.7 billion in FY 2018 earmarks is more than half of the record $29 billion in FY 2006.  At the rate of increase over FY 2017, earmarks could exceed the FY 2006 figure in two years.

……The 26th installment of CAGW’s exposé of pork-barrel spending includes $2.7 billion (434.9 percent more than FY 2017) for 20 additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft, which have been plagued with cost overruns, delays, and poor performance; $593 million (1,382.5 percent more than FY 2016) to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank, which is opposed by the Pentagon; $16.7 million (183.1 percent more than FY 2017) for the East-West Center, added by Senate Appropriations Committee member Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), even though there was no budget request and the House bill had no funding; and, $13 million (160 percent more than FY 2017) for Save America’s Treasures grants, which in the past have funded the restoration and operation of local museums, opera houses, and theaters.

……$10,000,000 for high energy cost grants within the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).  The RUS grew out of the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Electrification Administration (REA) of the 1930s.  The REA’s mission was to promote electrification to farmers and residents in communities where the cost of providing electricity was considered to be too expensive for local utilities.  By 1981, 98.7 percent electrification and 95 percent telephone service coverage was achieved.  Rather than declaring victory and shutting down the REA, the agency was transformed into the RUS, and expanded into other areas.

……$65,000,000 for Pacific coastal salmon recovery, a 333.3 percent increase from the $15 million last earmarked in FY 2015, and the largest earmark ever for this purpose.  The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) was established by Congress in FY 2000 to “reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead, supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.”  Both President Trump’s FY 2018 and FY 2019 Major Savings and Reforms recommended eliminating funding for the PCSRF.

Elimination of the fund would allow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “to better target remaining resources to core missions and services.”  The budget also noted that programs like the PCSRF favor state, local, and/or industry interests, are “not optimally targeted … favor certain species and geographic areas over others,” and do not direct funds to programs and projects that have “the greatest need or potential benefit.”

……$57,500,000 for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local law enforcement.  President Trump’s FY 2019 Major Savings and Reforms recommended reducing the COPS Hiring Program by $96 million.

In FY 2008, COPS received 680 earmarks requested by hundreds of members of Congress costing $245.2 million.  In that same year, the Office of Management and Budget’s Program Assessment Rating Tool awarded the COPS program with a “results not demonstrated” rating, which “indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing,” noting that the COPS program’s “long-term goals have no timelines or specific targets.”

……$2,674,600,000 for 20 additional F-35 JSF aircraft, including 10 for the Air Force, eight for the Navy, and two for the Marine Corps, a 434.9 percent increase in cost from the $500 million earmarked for JSFs in FY 2017, and the most ever earmarked for the JSF in one year.  The money earmarked for the F-35 represents 18.2 percent of the $14.7 billion in earmarks for FY 2018.

The acquisition misadventures of the JSF program have been well-documented, as the program has been plagued by an abundance of persistent issues.  In development for nearly 17 years and seven years behind schedule, total acquisition costs now exceed $406 billion, nearly double the initial estimate of $233 billion.  An April 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted that the lifetime operation and maintenance costs of the most expensive weapon system in history will total approximately $1 trillion. ….As in each preceding year, 2018 brought more bad news.  A May 2018 House Armed Services Committee (HASC) report revealed that the Navy’s JSF, the F-35C, may lack sufficient range to function adequately in a future war.

Many of the problems with the F-35 program can be traced to the decision to develop and procure the aircraft simultaneously.  Whenever problems have been identified, contractors needed to go back and make changes to aircraft that were already assembled, adding to overall costs.  Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on July 24, 2015, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James stated, “The biggest lesson I have learned from the F-35 is never again should we be flying an aircraft while we’re building it.”

……$593,000,000 for two earmarks funding the continued upgrade of the M1 Abrams tank to the M1A2SEP variant, an astounding 1,382.5 percent increase over the $40 million earmarked in FY 2016, and the largest earmark ever for this program.

Over the objections of senior DOD officials, members of Congress have for many years been earmarking funds for the M1 upgrade program.  Although the tank plant is in Lima, Ohio, its suppliers are spread across the country, which helps to explain the widespread support.

In testimony before the HASC on February 17, 2012, then-Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno told Congress that the U.S. possesses more than enough tanks to meet the country’s needs.  In fact, the Army has so many M1 tanks that 2,000 of them are parked in a California desert.

Past versions of the DOD Appropriations Act, including the FY 2016 version, hinted at a parochial incentive for the program’s continuance:  industrial base support.  There’s nothing like an old-fashioned jobs program disguised as a national security priority.

Since FY 1994, there have been 41 earmarks for the M1 Abrams program, requested by at least 13 members of Congress, costing taxpayers $1.5 billion.  As Congress continues to ignore the DOD, taxpayers will carry on footing the bill for upgrades to what Gen. Odierno described as “tanks that we simply do not need.”

……$544,075,000 for three earmarks funding the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the largest amount ever earmarked for the vessel.  Known to some inside (and outside) the Navy as the “Little Crappy Ship,” the LCS has been a disaster since its inception, with problems that include a vaguely defined mission, a lack of firepower and survivability, and design flaws leading to cracks in the hull and corrosion.  The number of ships the Navy intends to purchase has been cut in half, from 55 to 28, while the cost per ship has increased by 117.3 percent, from $220 million to $478 million.

Delays have also plagued the LCS.  A June 2018 GAO report noted that “deliveries of almost all LCS under contract have been delayed by several months, and, in some cases, a year or longer.”  The average LCS Freedom variant is 16 months behind schedule, while the average Independence variant is delayed by 14 months.  Because of the surfeit of problems, the Navy may not deploy the ships in 2018.

……$25,000,000 for alternative energy research, a 66.7 percent increase from the $15 million earmarked in FY 2017.  Since FY 2004, Congress has used funding meant for national security to insert 28 earmarks worth $314.9 million for this purpose, even though the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act supplies billions annually for alternative energy research.

A March 8, 2018 Defense News article detailed the Navy’s plans to cancel its fuel-efficient hybrid electric drive in 34 of its 35 destroyers.  It will not request funding for the program in FY 2019, which makes the earmark even more absurd.  Canceling the program makes sense, as a 2011 Rand report funded by the Pentagon found that “there is no direct benefit to the Department of Defense or the services from using alternative fuels.”

Alternative fuels are notoriously expensive.  A July 27, 2015 report found that between FYs 2007 and 2014, the Pentagon “purchased about 2.0 million gallons of alternative fuel for testing purposes, at a cost of about $58.6 million.  Over the same period, it purchased about 32.0 billion gallons of petroleum fuel at a cost of about $107.2 billion.”  This means the alternative fuel cost nearly 10 times as much as petroleum.

……$17,000,000 for the Asia Foundation, which is “committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.”  The $17 million earmarked in FY 2018 is a 240 percent increase over the $5 million in FY 2017, and the largest earmark ever for this program.  Since FY 1997, members of Congress have directed 12 earmarks totaling $81.6 million to the Asia Foundation.

The foundation has a $96.5 million annual budget, meaning the earmark represents 17.6 percent of its income.  The organization had 387 donors between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017, composed of 76 corporations and organizations, 36 government agencies, and 251 individuals.  The entity should rely solely on these private sources of income.

A February 26, 2018 article by Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation argued for the elimination of funding for the Asia Foundation and the East-West Center, claiming that the organizations “receive appropriated federal funding to support their activities, but do not operate under direct Executive Branch oversight.  These organizations should be required to compete for federal funding like other nongovernmental organizations.”

Both the FY 2018 and 2019 versions of President Trump’s Major Savings and Reforms proposed eliminating funding for the Asia Foundation.

There’s a ton of obscene waste, pork, and earmarks they could cut, but instead they pander to special interests and the usual bunch of outstretched hands. When military leaders tell you to stop wasting money on equipment and weapons they don’t need and don’t work, you know it’s gotten out of control.

More from Sen. Rand Paul’s ‘Festivus’ Report, Hat tip to Breitbart:

……about $115 million in American taxpayer money funded a slew of government projects, including $200,000 to put on plays in Afghanistan.

American taxpayers this year have also been forced to subsidize:

  • $76 million to provide stipends to Somali National Army
  • $18 million to promote tourism in Egypt
  • $2.4 million to study daydreaming
  • $1 million to support “legislative priorities” in Libya
  • $875,000 to study the sexual habits of quails on cocaine
  • $635,000 to develop a Pashto-language TV drama series for Afghanistan
  • $400,000 to support asset seizure programs in Paraguay
  • $360,000 to study horse and donkey hunting on the ancient Anatolian Peninsula
  • $250,000 to teach Rwandan special interest groups how to lobby elected officials
  • $75,000 to make videos marketing U.S. colleges to Indian students
  • $75,000 to blow leaf blowers at lizards
  • $35,000 to encourage people in the Republic of the Congo to use local resources
  • $15,000 to fund a fictionalized opera about Prince Harry, called “Stone Prince”
  • $50,000 to create conceptualized games in India
  • $50,000 to teach female entrepreneurs in India how to “vlog”
  • $50,000 to fund museum trips in Bosnia & Herzegovina

American taxpayers have paid nearly $30 million since 2014 to fund “reintegration” gift bags for illegal aliens and their children who were deported from the U.S. to their home countries, Breitbart News reported

As part of this “reintegration” effort, young migrants are provided with U.S. taxpayer-funded school supplies, toys, coloring books, dolls, toiletries, backpacks, and clothes……

This is the kind of shit that happens every fiscal year, at our expense. And the politicians wonder why no one trusts or respects them.

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