By Lauren Thompson | Watchdog Arena
$17 trillion was the number Congress approved so the federal government would not default on its debts in February 2014. We’re well into 2015 and Washington still refuses to curb its reckless spending habits. March 15 was the cutoff for the 2014 deal and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew was sure to sound his alarm bells.
“Absent an increase in the debt limit, the Treasury Department will have to take extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis,” Lew wrote in a letter dated March 6. “Why would you take a chance on not increasing the ceiling and having an impact on the nation’s credit rating?” he said, as reported by U.S. News.
The federal administration brandishes this rhetoric with breathless fashion while simultaneously squandering taxpayer funds on meaningless projects and pursuits. Below are a few outrageous ways the federal government has wasted taxpayer money:
- The State Department spent $18.5 million to renovate an unused prison in Afghanistan
In November, Judicial Watch detailed an extravagant waste of taxpayer funds under Hillary Clinton’s State Department to renovate an Afghan prison. The State Department utilized Uncle Sam’s wallet to update Afghanistan’s Pol-i-Charkhi prison so it could house a larger population– a population that actually doesn’t even exist. Even worse, the State Department officer overseeing the multi-million dollar project was convicted for accepting bribes from an agency contractor. The project was then determined to be defective by an independent firm.
- $182 million to house illegal alien children
Judicial Watch received documents in September revealing the Department of Health and Human Services paid $182,129,786 to provide “basic shelter care” for 2400 unaccompanied alien children.Judicial Watch said in a news release:
“According to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch, the cost to the American taxpayer was $86,846.34 per illegal alien child at Ft. Sill, for a total to $104,215,608 for 1,200 UACs from June 12 to October 18. The bill also included $2,648,800 in compensation for 30 members of the BCFS “Incident Management Team” (IMT), for a total to $88,293 per IMT member for the four-month period.
The $77,914,178 to care for 1,200 children at Lackland AFB amounted to a cost to the taxpayer of $64,928 per illegal alien child from May 18 to September 18. The Lackland bill included $20,000 for a “cable television screen/projector set up” and 20 shower stalls at $1,000 each.”
- Six figures to film mountain lions running on treadmills
Yes, you read that correctly. The $856,000 study funded by a National Science Foundation grant taught three mountain lions to use a treadmill. According to Federalist, “It took eight months of training before the cats were comfortable on the treadmill.”
“People just didn’t believe you could get a mountain lion on a treadmill, and it took me three years to find a facility that was willing to try,” one of the project’s key researches said.
- $10,000 to watch grass grow
The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent $10,000 to monitor the growth of saltmarsh grass.
Fox News reported, “The project is the brainchild of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is paying for the growth of the smooth cordgrass to be observed on a Florida reserve. The money covers “the cost to monitor grasses, restore two acres as a demonstration and publish a guide on best practices for cultivating the cordgrass, known formally as Spartina alterniflora.”
- $387,000 on Swedish massages for rabbits
The National Institute of Health’s Center for Alternative and Complimentary Medicine spent $387,000 to study the effects of Swedish massages on rabbits.
A Watchdog.org article said the purpose of the study was to “learn how to identify the most optimal application of massage therapy to treat human muscle aches and injuries.” In order to do this, the researchers purchased 18 New Zealand White rabbits, sedated them, fitted them with nerve cuffs and then electrically stimulated their hind leg muscles to mimic a workout.”
These examples are only the tip of the behemoth iceberg of government spending and abuse. Every year the debt ceiling will climb, and more Americans will feel the heat of a struggling economy unless Washington learns to exercise spending control.
But honestly, it’s truly impossible to feel sympathy for Washington’s cries of economic hardship and default when it blatantly wastes the taxpayer dollar on $16 muffins for a breakfast meeting.
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.