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20 Dec, 2019 01:28

All I want for Christmas is $23tn in debt: Rand Paul lays waste to reckless US spending in annual Festivus Report

All I want for Christmas is $23tn in debt: Rand Paul lays waste to reckless US spending in annual Festivus Report

Offering some relief from the impeachment spectacle grinding on in Washington, Senator Rand Paul has released his yearly Festivus Report, chronicling the outrageous – but sometimes comical – spending habits of the US government.

Whether it’s funding costly studies on the mating calls of Panamanian frogs, spending millions to improve the quality of television in Moldova or bankrolling Peru’s Green New Deal, Washington has found a number of creative ways to blow through tax dollars in 2019. In an epic “airing of grievances” inspired by the TV sitcom Seinfeld, Paul (R-KY) pulled no punches for the federal spendthrifts.

Calculating a shocking $50.4 billion in waste over the last year – equal to the combined yearly tax bill of over 6 million Americans – the report takes a journey through the budgetary black hole to see where all that hard-earned money ended up.

The science of squandering

Though few would dispute the value of scientific research, some of Washington’s spending decisions in that area have been questionable to say the least. One study published in March, funded by federal agencies to the tune of $466,000, analyzed the mating calls of frogs in Panama. The study found that city-dwelling frogs called at a higher rate than their counterparts in the forest. An interesting find for the researchers, no doubt, but was it worth it?

As we deal with this [debt] crisis and also wrestle with paying for actual priorities, do we really want government funding studies of a non-endangered frog’s mating habits?

Another study carried out this year, this time of human mating habits, devoted $1.2 million in government funds to understand how people interact on dating apps. Among its groundbreaking findings: app users put greater effort into pursuing more “desirable” mates than ones they find less desirable. You don’t say!

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An additional $51 million in tax dollars was disbursed to researchers in Hawaii, tasked with sifting through Google Scholar to review existing literature on “climate hazards.” Again, the report asks, given America’s skyrocketing debt and deficit, was it really necessary for taxpayers to foot the bill?

The show must go on… in Moldova

In an effort to bring the East European country’s TV industry up to international standards – an urgent matter, to be sure – the US State Department blew $2 million in Moldova this year, in part hoping to combat so-called “Russian influence” on the airwaves.

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Just five months from the deadline for the grant application, the country’s acting president approved a draconian law banning “most television and radio programs not produced in the European Union, the US, or Canada,” according to Balkan Insight. Despite the media crackdown, the American dollars kept on flowing.

Ultimately, this fool’s errand certainly has the makings of a great TV show – one that could be a comedy or a tragedy. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Bum new deal?

While $10 million may be a drop in the bucket next to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $1 trillion-plus ‘Green New Deal’ proposal, some Americans might object to simply gifting that sum to a foreign country. In March, that’s exactly what the US Agency for International Development (USAID) did, pouring millions of US tax dollars into Peru to support “environmentally-friendly economic development.” The agency envisioned cozying up with the country’s private sector to arrange environmentally-friendly investments, but for US citizens struggling to keep up with their tax bill, the project may be seen as a bum deal.

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With a $1.4 trillion spending package making its way through the Senate on Thursday at the last minute, averting a government shutdown by just one day, Washington appears slated to put 2019 on repeat in the coming year, showing no signs of reigning in its spending addiction despite 23 trillion reasons to do so.

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