This month, deficit hawk Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) revealed his Government Wasteful Spending Report. Among some of the more humerous items listed were consisted of: “Millions of dollars … spent on questionable items, like $325,000 on a squirrel robot, realistic enough to fool a rattlesnake, and developed with a National Science Foundation grant; $40,000 to produce a video game where players can virtually enjoy a pond in Massachusetts; and $516,000 to create a video game called “Prom Week,” which simulates the interaction of teenagers surrounding the biggest social night in high school.”
However, perhaps the biggest problems were so-called loopholes. Loopholes are essentially tax breaks for a select few. They are no different than a government subsidy where the government picks certain organizations and companies to prop up. In other words, a select tax break for a select few is not free market economics but big government in the market place, choosing winners and losers. Senator Coburn said, “We have some of the biggest corporations in America paying no taxes whatsoever, you know something is wrong with the code.”
One of the surprising examples Coburn found was perhaps one that is all too obvious : “The National Football League, for example, pulled in more than $9 billion last year, yet is technically a “non-profit” organization, costing the federal government tens of millions of dollars every year in lost revenue.” Other national sports leagues also found the ire of Senator Coburn for failing to pay a dime in taxes, like the NHL and the PGA. Senator Coburn estimated that taxing these leagues would produce an additional “$91 million a year.”
While, there are certainly programs that would add far more than taxing the NFL, Coburn expelled criticism that cutting such small expenditures were insignificant. “The problem in Washington is politicians are very specific about what we should fund but not specific about what we should cut. As a result, we are chasing robotic squirrels and countless other low-priority projects over a fiscal cliff.” In conclusion Coburn stated,
“This report also exposes the folly of across-the-board-cuts or sequestration. 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”
While there are certainly larger things to cut and we should, I applaud Senator Tom Coburn’s “Dave”-like approach to cutting the budget. As they say, every journey begins with the first step. As a side note, I think its time to hit Goodell with a fine or two … I’m sure James Harrison won’t mind.