The Norman Transcript


October 16, 2012

Coburn identifying government waste in annual report



A program highlighting a Moroccan pottery class costs taxpayers $27 million but has reportedly “not reached its goals,” according to “Wastebook.” This project is part of a four-year plan by the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve the economic competitiveness of Morocco. Problems with the translator and the choice of materials, such as dyes and clays not available in Morocco, doomed the pottery classes to failure.

The irony of the pottery project is that the Moroccan people have been making ceramics since the fifth century BC, begging the question of why a culture with such a rich legacy would need this sort of outside help.

One of the more interesting expenditures cited in “Wastebook” is $1 million spent annually on building a Mars menu for astronauts, with $947,000 going to researchers at Cornell University and the University of Hawaii for tasters on a simulated Mars trip to see how various foods affect moods and health.

This despite the fact that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration no longer has a manned space fleet and has no current mission plans for human space flight to Mars. Findings included the monotony of a diet without variety.

Coburn’s “Wastebook” said this is money lost in a “black hole.”

“This report also exposes the folly of across-the-board-cuts or sequestration,” Coburn said. “There is no question we can find hundreds of billion dollars of waste in our budget. Yet, by not going through the budget line by line and setting priorities, we are protecting ridiculous programs like caviar promotion and climate change musicals while cutting vital programs.

“Until Congress has the guts to cut specific programs, we will never get our debt under control. As these examples illustrate, it is not nearly as hard to make those choices as many politicians claim. Instead of spending federal dollars to help golfers imagine a smaller hole, we should be trying to shrink the hole in our budget.”


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