Non-partisan group reveals ‘nightmarish’ government waste across US

by Jacob Fuller

Curt Flewelling, FISM News


In honor of Halloween, the group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released what it affectionately terms a breakdown of last year’s “nightmarish” federal spending.

CAGW is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization with the mission to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in government. The group is famous for compiling the most egregious examples of pork-barrel projects in its annual “The Congressional Pig Book” publication.

Although reckless government spending is nothing new, three congressional “COVID relief” bills gave lawmakers carte blanche to approve massive amounts of taxpayer dollars for things that had nothing to do with COVID-19.

The report cites some of the more outrageous examples of misuse:

  • Hawaii: $1 million for a “sea urchin hatchery.”
  • Texas: $4 million for an urban bird sanctuary.
  • Iowa: $12.5 million to build a baseball stadium on the famous “Field of Dreams” site to encourage tourism.

In its report, CAGW said, “The myriad instances of state and local governments misusing COVID relief funds with a plethora of payments for putrid projects shows how lawmakers have pulled the ultimate trick on taxpayers.”

However, what is wasteful or frivolous to one person can be considered vitally important to another. Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this. They routinely, with a wink and a nod, vote for a colleague’s pet project without knowing much about it. The “favor” is reciprocated by the colleague and the saga continues.

This phenomenon is facilitated by the omnibus process. An omnibus spending bill packages together many smaller appropriations bills into one, easy-to-vote on bill. The process usually takes place very late in a congressional session, providing lawmakers with little time for analysis or debate. As a result, billions of tax dollars are often spent on these “pork barrel projects.”

In an attempt to curtail this phenomenon, Congresswomen Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) has introduced the Government Offices Realignment and Closure Act (GORAC). This bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to contract a non-federal auditor to locate duplicative, wasteful, or outdated functions performed by a federal executive agency. The auditor would then share these findings with Congress.

On her congressional website, the Republican explains why she introduced the bill.

“We have seen where wasteful government spending has gotten us. Our national debt just passed $31 trillion and inflation is at a 41-year high. Hardworking Americans deserve better — that is why I introduced GORAC, which will drastically reduce the wasteful spending that’s been lost in the bog of of our bloated federal government and instead put it towards lowering our national debt,” Van Duyne said.