by Bethany Blankely
The U.S. government spent $33.9 million of taxpayer money on unused textbooks for Afghani children. The books are still sitting in decaying storage units in Afghanistan. American taxpayers also spent $16 million to improve the quality of Egyptian education.
These and other expensive programs funded by U.S. taxpayers are highlighted in Sen. Rand Paul’s latest Waste Report, which identifies an additional $2.3 million in “runaway spending” by the federal government.
“Once again, The Waste Report takes a closer look at just some of what the federal government is doing with the American people’s hard-earned money, this time including stories of it continuing to turn over so many taxpayer dollars to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, funding research that involves hooking Zebrafish on nicotine, buying textbooks for Afghan students that are subpar or sitting in warehouses, and more in a list that totals over $230 million,” Paul, Republican-Kentucky, said in a statement accompanying the 16-page report.
Paul chairs the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (FSO) Subcommittee for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC). His report highlights eight specific items that Paul considers wasted taxpayer money.
The U.S. Agency for International Data (USAID) spent the nearly $50 million on the unused Afghani textbooks and Egyptian education. The report suggests that taxpayer money should be focused on improving American education instead of other countries’.
Through USAID, the U.S. also spent $22 million on bringing Serbian cheese up to international standards while U.S. dairy farmers are struggling, the report notes.
Through the U.S. State Department, taxpayes paid $300,000 to fund a debate and Model United Nations competitions in Afghanistan, and $84,000 on a statue bought from Bob Dylan for the U.S. embassy in Mozambique.
Through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. government spent $4.6 million on studying the connection between drinking alcohol and ending up in the emergency room, and $708,000 for a British university to research Zebrafish addiction to nicotine.
“As debate rages in the country over vaping, NIH is sponsoring a nearly five-year project that involves actively addicting its subjects, Zebrafish, to nicotine,” the report states. The project, being conducted at the Queen Mary University of London, will cost U.S. taxpayers $708,466.
When it comes to funding nicotine research overseas, Paul said, “Everybody agrees that nicotine addiction is a problem. But you have to be smoking something other than nicotine if you think the solution is to ship American tax dollars abroad to addict Zebrafish to nicotine.”
Nearly half of the total listed in the report was spent on the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, otherwise known as the Metro.
“Metro’s routine service outages, delays, incomprehensible policy choices, and mismanagement of funds has led to, as WAMU reported earlier this year, the lowest ridership in almost 20 years,” the report states.
“Despite its chronically bad performance, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting the federal government will cut Metro a $153,000,000 check for Fiscal Year 2020,” the report says, citing numerous news reports of agency mismanagement of taxpayer money.
Mismanagement includes millions spent on law firms, public relations firms, and a subsidy pilot program, failure to make repairs for years on escalators, cooling systems, and on “operation golden potty.” The Inspector General’s Office found that between 2003 and 2017, Metro spent approximately $500,000 maintaining a single self-cleaning toilet located at the Huntington Metro Station that was regularly out of service.
“The federal government simply cannot afford to flush $153 million down the toilet this coming year, particularly on an agency seemingly hell-bent on wasting Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars,” Paul said.
With the national debt surpassing $23 trillion for the first time in November, Paul argues the U.S. cannot afford to consistently waste taxpayer money on such projects.
Read the full 16-page report:
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.