Senator Tom Coburn, (R-NE) has given out his “2008 Worst Waste of the Year” awards to honor this year’s most outrageous federal spending.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
Small Business Loans to Liquor Stores ($82 million)
The economic downturn may have strained the credit markets, making it tough for businesses trying to get a loan, but the federal government has made sure lowÃ¢â‚¬Âinterest rate loans are flowing for liquor stores. In 2008, the Small Business Administration guaranteed loans for 331 liquor stores, putting taxpayers at risk for more than $82 million in the event the loans default. This was great news for SpankyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Liquor World, Pistol PeteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Beef NÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Beer, and Wagon Wine Shoppe, each of which received government loans.
Of course, that money is coming from politicians in Washington, DC, for whom “liquor in the front, poker in the rear” often has little to do with drinking or gambling, so maybe the expense didn’t seem too out of line to them given the perceived subject matter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The checkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in the mailÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ IRS Mailings for Rebate Checks ($42 million)
When Congress passed legislation this year giving every taxpayer a stimulus check, the Department of the Treasury felt recipients needed a little advanced warning. It spent nearly $42 million on a mailing to inform taxpayers not that their checks had arrived, but merely that they would be there soon.
I remember getting one of these in the mail. It’s like they spent a fortune just to see our faces when we opened what we thought was a check only to see the word “PSYCH!”
Voicemail for the Homeless — Ohio ($15K)
While the homeless in Summit County struggle to find food, shelter and clothing, this Ohio community made sure they were not lacking in one essential service: voice mail. A $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) will carve out $15,000 for the free voice mail service. Interestingly, the community spent only $10,000 of the same CDBG grant on transitional housing for Ã¢â‚¬Å“homeless single parents.Ã¢â‚¬Â
“Hi, this is Bob. Naturally I’m not at home right now, but at the tone….”