Grape Waste Leads to Fund Raisin
Who says Christmas only comes once a year? According to Senator James Lankford (R-Okla), taxpayers have been giving all year long. They just didn’t know it! And now thanks to his new “Wastebook,” Americans are finding out just how generous they were forced to be. Taking the handoff from long-time waste-watcher Senator Tom Coburn, Lankford’s new “Federal Fumbles” tackles pricy projects that cheated taxpayers in 2015. As always, this year’s top 100 projects will have you laughing at someone’s expense — yours!
With $105 billion in federal idiocy, Congress had better get spending under control or the government’s mineral program (p. 33) won’t be the only thing hitting rock bottom. Under the Obama administration, there are plenty of raisins to be upset (p. 66) — not the least of which is the $59 million we’re shelling out to protect turtles (p. 55). Of course, that’s nothing compared to the $67.9 million the Bureau of Land Management is ponying up to handle wild horses (p. 35) despite all the neigh-sayers!
The Department of Energy made a last dish effort to clean up spending with appliance regulations (p. 16), but with Transportation’s $820 million in bike trails, conservatives couldn’t back-pedal fast enough. While immigration officials look for a safe haven for criminals (try the Obama administration!), the State Department’s $545,000 “truth-telling” consultants (p. 25) had their hands full with Hillary Clinton.
That had about as many people cheering as the $542 million in stadium subsidies or the $30,000 that the Department of the Interior spent on beetles (not, as Lankford points out, the Volkswagen kind). Meanwhile, the National Park Service blew $5,000 on a violin documentary, so that someone could actually fiddle while Washington burns p. 69. And what do you do when life hands you Yemens? Make Yemen-aid! That’s the excuse for $48 million in unshipped military supplies for the Arab nation (p. 29). If you think that’s ineffective, try the $250,000,000 we spent training 60 rebels to fight ISIS (now that’s Syria-ous money).
At another agency, they’re reinstating the draught with $35,000 in solar beer (p. 62), which beats the tar out of the $48,500 study on Russian tobacco (or as I like to call it, Sputnik-otine). Just say nyet! Over at the National Park Service, officials cashed in $65,473 (p. 44) to find out what happens to bugs when the lights go out. (You mean they don’t just buy flashlights like the rest of us?)
And believe it or not, the Sixth Sense isn’t the only thing seeing dead people. So is the IRS (p. 83). With billions of dollars in fraudulent payments, it’s time to take the path of deceased resistance. That will be easier now, with Republicans like Lankford in control. As he said, the point of this report is to show “ways we can cut back on wasteful federal spending and burdensome regulations to help families, small businesses, and our economy begin to get out from under the weight of federal stagnation.”
Members need to put Washington on a diet — and not the $2,658,929 truck-driver kind (p. 17). Otherwise, the Agency for International Development won’t need to spend $335 million to see who’s wasting power (p. 73). It’ll be obvious: Congress!
Sen. Collins a Maine Character on Reconciliation
Congress has plenty of work to do over the next couple of weeks before they jingle their way home for Christmas. One of the many items that we’re closely watching is the budget reconciliation debate that is heating up in the Senate. Despite the far-Left’s attempt to derail the language to defund Planned Parenthood, the provision actually seems to be gaining support.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who many might confuse for a Democrat, was opposed to ending taxpayers forced partnership with the group until this week. To reporters, she hinted that the provision would no longer be an issue, saying, “I would like to see a much more targeted approach [to the abortion business’s defunding], but I’m looking at everything. And while others try to use the Colorado clinic shooting as an excuse to drop the measure holding Planned Parenthood accountable for its baby harvesting ring, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would hear none of it. As horrific as the shooting was, he — like many pro-lifers — doesn’t believe the incident should let Planned Parenthood off the hook for its own alleged criminal activity.
"Instead of playing politics with this tragedy, maybe those on the Left … should actually take the time to read the resolution establishing the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. At no point does it mention Planned Parenthood,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) fired back. What happened in Colorado doesn’t change the reality of the situation, which is that Planned Parenthood was caught on tape admitting to the sale of baby body parts. “We are focused on a fact-finding mission into abortion practices and fetal tissue procurement and the relationship between the two businesses.”
The least Congress can do is to put the brakes on taxpayer funding of the organization in the meantime. Encourage your senators to do exactly that in the upcoming vote on the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.
World War Won! Cross Stays, Judge Rules
Good news on religious liberty isn’t exactly easy to come by these days. But that certainly makes victories like [Monday’s] sweeter! For months, the American Humanist Society had been fighting to tear down a 90-year old World War I memorial in Maryland. Liberty Institute, which is no stranger to cross cases, went to bat for the display on behalf of the American Legion.
And thanks to a decision by U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow, religious freedom won! In a rare moment of clarity on the bench, the court ruled in a 36-page opinion that the Peace Cross (as it’s called) may be religious, but that doesn’t make it illegal. Chasanow admitted that the cross was a Christian symbol but explained that its “primary purpose was not religious in nature.” Instead, she wrote, “There is overwhelming evidence in the record showing that the predominant purpose of the monument was for secular commemoration.”
Protecting the Bladensburg monument, Liberty’s Kelly Shackelford celebrated, “helps ensure that all of America’s veterans' memorials — and the veterans they honor — will be protected.” And that’s exactly the kind of freedom these soldiers died fighting for.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.