Senator Coburn Highlights Government Waste

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn recently published his annual litany of government wasteful spending:  “Wastebook 2012.”  Prefacing the laundry list of 2012 fiscal fiascoes, Coburn notes that Congress is on pace to make history for the least productive legislative year since 1947, with just 61 bills passed and made law in 2012 to date.  “Even taking into account bills the House and Senate are expected to pass in the upcoming lame-duck session, the current Congress could easily have the lowest level of legislative activity since statistics began being tabulated,” notes the Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call.”

Some of our favorites, among the 2012 spending lowlights:

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) has provided taxpayers the opportunity to relive their childhood, by spending part of a $516,000 grant to create “Prom Week,” a video game.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development found it necessary to spend $505,000 in support of Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc., which specializes in pet shampoo and toothpaste.  Sergeant’s pet shampoos are available in tea tree oil, mild baby shampoo, “low-sudsing, quick rinse” cat shampoo, not to mention flea and tick medications available in clean cotton and tropical breeze scents.
  • Our favorite:  Purdue University used part of a $350,000 NSF grant to examine the benefits golfers might gain from using their imagination – to envision a larger golf hole as they struggle with their putting!  Results of the research might help “an athlete get out of a slump,” according to researchers.
  • Almost 7,000 Medicaid providers in three states owed $791 million in unpaid federal taxes, but that didn’t stop your government from doling out $6.6 billion in Medicaid reimbursements to them.
  • Identity thieves will collect an estimated $3.9 billion in tax refunds on fraudulent returns they file using stolen social security numbers, according to a recent report of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  (We guess the Revenooers are too busy chasing honest folk for nickel and dime penalties, that they don’t have time to nail the big time identity thieves.)
  • The Alabama Watermelon Queen went on a tour this year with some financial aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the state allocated $25,000 in federal funds to the Alabama Watermelon Association “to promote the consumption of Alabama’s watermelon through appearances of the Queen at various events and locations.”
  • And is it any wonder that the post office is going broke when they waste $2 million in printing and manufacturing costs, annually, to produce commemorative stamps that must be later destroyed because of excess inventories?  Notes Coburn, “Several stamps series have been printed so excessively that had every person in the nation sent a piece of mail using them, there still would have been leftovers.”


CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult our CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation.

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He may be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at

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