The Brussels’ home of the U.S. Ambassador to NATO received $704,198 in gardening and landscaping services. The purchase included, “960 violas, 960 tulips, 960 begonias, 72 Japanese evergreen shrubs, 504 ivy geraniums, 168 hybrid heath evergreen shrubs, 204 American wintergreens, and 60 English ivy shrubs.” Obviously, this was prioritized over legitimate overseas projects like enhancing the security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans lost their lives.
Every year, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) issues an annual oversight report featuring the top 100 ways the government wastes money. “Wastebook 2013” lists nearly $30 billion of taxpayers’ money that was squandered last year. Considering it is capped at 100 items; there may be hundreds or even thousands more instances of wasteful government spending. Coburn artfully juxtaposes the pork projects against cuts the federal government is making to legitimate spending like the military and historic sites.
He observes that if the 100 wasteful projects had been eliminated, almost a third of last year’s sequester cuts wouldn’t have been necessary. When Congress failed to pass an appropriations bill last year, arbitrary cuts were made when the government ran out of money, and federal employees were paid to sit at home for 16 days. Furloughed non-essential federal employees were paid a total of $2 billion to not work.
Although Coburn doesn’t expound on it, much of the wasteful spending was likely the result of members of Congress giving away freebies to organizations run by their cronies, or deals they’d made with contributors to their campaigns.