Every year, Republican Sen. Rand Paul releases his yearly “Festivus” list of grievances with Congressional and federal spending, much of which goes into pork barrel projects and costs the US taxpayer billions of dollars—and 2020 is no different.
In his time-honored tradition inspired by the faux holiday popularized by Seinfeld, in which grievances are aired during the holiday season, Paul calculated that this year’s grievances amount to about $54 billion.
"I got a lotta problems with federal spending,” Paul stated in his report, "and now you’re gonna hear about it!”
He estimated that the government’s “wasteful” expenditures cost each taxpayer around $10,000 per year.
In addition to identifying the waste, Paul offers suggestions for how the money can be better spent. Claremont Institute’s Nick Short highlighted several particularly egregious expenses, including:
The Department of Defense potentially lost up to $715 million in equipment directed to Syrians fighting ISIS.
The Department of Defense spent $174 million supplying drones to the Afghan National Army, which were then lost.
The Federal Aviation Admin spent over $19 million rebuilding a taxiway for airplanes on Nantucket Island, a posh summer vacation destination for America’s rich and famous.
Mismanagement by the Department of Veterans Affairs resulted in $3.5 billion in delinquent undelivered orders.
Researchers used funds from NIH grants totaling $31 million on a study they allegedly faked to make it look like there was a connection between e-cigarettes and heart attacks.
U.S. Agency for International Development is spending $37M to help deal with truant Filipino youth
Short wrote: “The craziest example of government of waste? Researchers spent funds from National Science Foundation grants worth $1.5 million to walk lizards on a treadmill!”
Other highlights include FEMA’s expenditure of $10 million on unusable soda bottles instead of COVID test tubes, $4.5 million on an NIH study spraying alcoholic rats with bobcat urine, a $3.4 million text-based outreach program to discourage teenage girls from indoor tanning, and a $48 million USAID program to help “disconnected Tunisian youth” from engaging in antisocial behavior.
The senator’s yearly document has helped to draw attention to unnecessary government spending and arrives in the wake of Trump’s rejection of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, which designated billions of dollars to foreign aid and private capital.
Paul was among six GOP senators who voted against the bill, referring to it as a “spending monstrosity.”