7 outrageous examples of wasteful government spending from Sen. Coburn’s 2013 ‘Wastebook’

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert PoliticsDecember 17, 2013

waste book

Uncle Sam looking for love online and NASA looking for life in outer space – just two of the many government-funded projects highlighted in this year’s “Wastebook.”

The “Wastebook” is an annual report released by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It features 75 different examples of wasteful and low-priority spending costing the American taxpayers more than $28 billion.

“While politicians in Washington spent much of 2013 complaining about sequestration’s impact on domestic programs and our national defense, we still managed to provide benefits to the Fort Hood shooter, study romance novels, help the State Department buy Facebook fans and even help NASA study Congress,” he said in a press release.

“Had Congress, in particular, been focused on doing its job of setting priorities and cutting the kind of wasteful spending outlined in this report, we could have avoided both a government shutdown and a flawed budget deal that was designed to avert a shutdown. This report speaks volumes about why confidence in government is at an all-time low.  The hard truth is we’d much rather borrow than cut.  The American people are right to expect more.”

Listed below are seven of the most outrageous examples of wasteful government spending as outlined in Coburn’s “Wastebook.”

1. ‘Pillownauts’

Pillownauts wasteful spending

They are exactly what they sound like – astronauts lying around doing nothing but lying around for a couple of months. According to the “Wastebook,” 20 people were each paid $18,000 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to lay in bed for 70 days to test how the body will deal with weightlessness during future spaceflight.

2. The million dollar bus stop

Arlington bus stop wasteful spending

Hidden in suburban Washington, D.C. is a bus stop that surprisingly costs more than many of the homes in the area. This “million dollar bus stop” includes heated benches and sidewalks and wireless. Its tilted roof, however, does little to keep people warm on windy days.

3. The 28-acre personal garden

NATO Brussels home wasteful spending

The State Department spent more than $700,000 this past year to manage the grounds at the 28-acre Brussels home of the U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Among the plants cared for at the Ambassador’s home include 960 violas, 960 tulips, 960 begonias, 72 Japanese evergreen shrubs, 504 ivy geraniums, 168 hybrid heath evergreen shrubs, 204 American wintergreens and 60 English ivy shrubs.

4. NASA’s “Green Ninja”

NASA green ninja wasteful spending

NASA is seemingly taking up some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s work these days, commissioning the “Green Ninja” superhero to teach children about climate change. According to one of the creators, “the goal of the project is to make the Green Ninja the new Smokey the Bear.” The Green Ninja is being featured in lesson plans for the classroom and in cartoons on his YouTube page.

5. “Starting Strong”

Starting Strong wasteful spending

Even the federal government is investing in reality TV these days. Over the summer, the U.S. Army aired a half-hour reality TV show – “Starting Strong” on FOX in 16 large markets aimed at enticing young people to join its ranks. The videos were also posted on the Army’s YouTube channel and promoted on Facebook.

6. 3-D pizza

3-D pizza wasteful spending

Who needs 3-D guns when you could have a completely edible 3-D pizza! NASA (yes, NASA again) spent $125,000 on the creation of a printer that will create 3-D pizzas for astronauts in space.

7. Avoiding ‘skinny cows’


The United States Department of Agriculture spent $19 million on research to stop “climate-induced bovine weight loss.” The project doesn’t just involve improving soil and water quality for cows, however – a sociologist on the team will focus on “developing marketing options and ways to provide more stable farm household income.”


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