$5 million for crystal stemware. Tax breaks for brothels. The world's most expensive dirigible.
That's all part of Sen. Tom Coburn’s 2013 “Wastebook,” in which the Oklahoma Republican outlines 100 examples of government waste that collectively cost the U.S. taxpayer nearly $30 billion.
In a year plagued with fiscal crises, when sequester cuts to the federal budget began to the tune of about $100 billion a year, Coburn says, “Had just these 100 been eliminated, the sequester amount would have been reduced nearly a third without any noticeable disruption.”
Here are seven things the U.S. government wasted taxpayer dollars on, according to the report:
$17 Million Brothel Tax Exemption
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It’s not only the customers who are getting a happy ending. It appears that brothels in Nevada are taking advantage of millions in tax deductions for things like groceries, salaries and even the wages of prostitutes, as well as breast implants and costumes.
$50 Million For Google Searches
The Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service states that its mission is to promote American innovation and economic growth through the collection and sharing of scientific, technical and engineering information to the public and industry. According to its website, the NTIS provided information management solutions to other federal agencies without appropriated funding.
But according to Coburn’s wasteful spending report, the NTIS has gotten a bit innovative itself, charging other federal agencies and taxpayers for reports, many of which can be found online. About three quarters of the agency's reports were readily available from multiple other public sources. Moreover, a $79 CD-ROM, a bestseller for the agency, can be downloaded free from another website.
Obamacare’s $684 Million Marketing Costs
Can’t say this was an unexpected entry -- but the numbers are jaw-dropping nonetheless. It cost the Obama administration more than $319 million thus far to build HealthCare.gov, which had a fumbled rollout on Oct. 1 after being riddled with technical glitches. However, based on data from the Associated Press, the report stated that to publicly market the website cost more than double what was spent to create it.
Army Wasted Nearly $300 Million On Blimp
For nearly four years the Army spent nearly $300 million developing a massive unmanned blimp known as the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle to continuously stake out the Afghan battlefield. However, the Army ended the project this year and sold the blimp to the contractor building it, for a mere $301,000, a thousandth of the cost.
Kick Your Feet Up For $18,000
While more than 90 percent of its 18,250 employees were furloughed during the government shutdown, NASA was paying some 20 people $18,000 each to lie in bed for weeks as part of a bedrest study. But don’t call them couch potatoes; they were “pillownauts.”
$325,525 Study To Prove A Calmer Wife Is A Happier Life
Husbands will like this, but the wives won’t. The Wastebook revealed that the National Institutes for Health spent more than $300,000 to conduct a study of 82 married couples, finding that wives would be better satisfied with their marriages if they just calmed down sooner after fighting with their hubbies. Note to men out there: Don’t follow this advice. The last thing a woman wants to hear when she is angry is to “calm down.”
The Million-Dollar Virginia Bus stop
This isn't just shelter from the rain or sunshine, or a place to rest while you wait for the bus. Why be so average when you can have heated benches and sidewalks, and wireless zones for personal computers? Apparently that’s what’s up at a SuperStop bus stop in Arlington County, Va., according to the Wastebook.
You can read about more wasteful spending like the tens of thousands spent on a 3-D pizza printer and the $5 million paid to a Vermont company to custom-make those crystal wine glasses.
(Note: U.S. Capitol winter picture by Shutterstock.com.)