Big Government Flushes $25 Billion While Some Politicians Politicize Ebola Spending

Larry Villano, Publisher of

The politicization of every aspect of life seems worse than ever these days. So, why not politicize Ebola as well. After all, the midterms are just around the corner. So, now we have some Dems blaming Republicans for the Ebola "outbreak" (two people in the entire country). But when you look at the facts, such a claim seems unjustified.

Senator Tom Coburn recently released his annual Wastebook highlighting $25 billion worth of obscene spending of taxpayer money. At the same time, some prominent Democrats are blaming Republicans for the Ebola outbreak, saying that reductions in federal spending prevented government-funded scientists from discovering a cure for the disease.

The National Institutes of Health's FY 2015 budget request was $30.362 billion ($211 million above the FY 2014 level, a 0.7 percent increase). This means that Tom Coburn's $25 billion Wastebook amount represents more than 80% of the NIH budget. In other words, the NIH budget could be almost doubled if the $25 billion in wasteful spending was reallocated to the NIH budget!

It is not the lack of spending that is the problem, but how taxpayer money is being spent.

Here are some examples of what's included in the 2014 Wastebook:

  • $19 million to pay the full-time salaries of federal employees who were on “administrative leave” for disciplinary reasons.
  • $400,000 for senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to have memberships at a luxury gym near their Washington, D.C. headquarters.
  • $100,000 or more for the Coast Guard to protect private events at yacht clubs, beaches, and on public waterways from party-crashers.
  • $350 million for NASA to build a tower to test rockets for a rocket program that was cancelled in 2010. The tower will cost NASA $840,000 each year to maintain, even though it no longer serves a purpose. A review by the NASA Inspector General found that the agency spends a total of $43 million a year to maintain facilities it either isn’t fully using or doesn’t need at all.
  • $3.5 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund the construction of “spray parks” and “splashpads”--water playgrounds--in towns across the country.
  • $1 billion for the Department of Defense to destroy $16 billion worth of ammunition it paid for but doesn’t need. The cost to destroy surplus ammunition is equal to the annual salaries of 54,000 Army privates, according to the Wastebook.
  • The $387,000 NIH grant to give 18 white rabbits “Swedish massages” following their rabbit exercise.
  • A $371,000 NIH grant to find out whether mothers love their dogs as much as they love their children. Scientists did this by monitoring moms in an MRI machine while showing them pictures of their children and pets.
  • A $533,000 NIH grant to analyze what Buddhist literature has to say about the effects of meditation.
  • An $804,000 NIH grant to create a video game (“Kiddo: Food Fight”) which allows parents to practice techniques for persuading kids to eat their vegetables.
  • A $331,000 grant to reveal that when people are hungry they stick more pins into voodoo dolls they’re told represent their spouses.

Since 2007, Senator Coburn’s office has produced more than 40 reports, including eight Wastebooks.