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Watchdog accuses both sides of wasting your money

Citizens Against Government Waste release 28th annual 'Pig Book'
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Watchdog accuses both sides of wasting your money

A new report claims the federal government is wasting billions of your tax dollars.

Over 32 pages – Citizens Against Government Waste highlights nearly 16-billion-dollars-worth of spending. That’s just 0.3 percent of the federal budget. But, CAGW President Tom Schatz calls it wasteful pork, meant to bring home the bacon rather than serve a national interest.

He said he’s seen what some call budget dust add up to about half-a-billion dollars since he began combing over the budget in the early ’90s. “Those little projects do add up over time,” he said.

While the ‘Pig Book’ criticizes members of both parties, all 12 of those who digitally attended or pre-recorded a message for this year’s release came from the Republican side of the aisle. Each praised CAGW for holding Congress accountable.

Ironically, seven of the senators and representatives who spoke at the virtual event are public supporters of the program the Pig Book lists as the most expensive boondoggle: the military’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet.

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) are all vocal supporter of the plane; as are Representatives Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Bill Flores (R-TX), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), and Ralph Norman (R-SC). None brought up the topic in their remarks.

Over the last two decades, the plane has been chronically delayed, over-budget, and underperformed. Congress, opted to order more of the planes this fiscal year, 22 more than the Department of Defense requested, and at a cost of $2.1-billion. Banks, Flores, Lesko, and Norman all signed a letter calling for the additional purchases and criticized in the Pig Book.

Most of the alleged pork in the Pig Book tallies in the millions.

“The 2020 Pig Book contains a slew of absurd, nature-related [projects],” said Schatz.

That includes programs for wild horse management and cash to fight invasive pests and plants.

The latter, is money well-spent according to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a key player when it comes to developing the country’s spending plan given his role as Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

“People have to have clean water,” he said dismissing the entire report as pandering to a conservative base.

“It is for the whole country,” Leahy added of the efforts to ensure major bodies of water remain useable for water supply, fishing, and attracting tourists, “Vermont has to apply, just the same as any other state.”

Not included in this year’s Pig Book: any items from Congress’ two-trillion-dollar-plus coronavirus spending spree to stabilize the country’s health and economic security. We asked Schatz why. “It’s still being spent, it’s hard to tell,” he said of whether any of that cash will be wasted. “They at least put in some accountability to be provided,” he added.

Schatz did say business loans backed by the government are critical for the economy right now.

When asked about the registry of large loan recipients recently released by the Trump administration, Schatz confirmed Citizens Against Government Waste received a loan. He called it an indication of the extraordinary times and added that he he hopes they never have to accept government help again.

Copyright 2020 Gray DC. All rights reserved.

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