The federal government spent millions subsidizing Donald Trump’s new hotel, building a useless gas station in Afghanistan, and funding a study on the dating habits of senior citizens, according to a new report by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
The above findings are three of 100 ways the feds blew taxpayer dollars on ridiculous projects detailed in a 145-page report entitled “Federal Fumbles,” which was released Monday. The report echoes the legacy of Lankford’s predecessor Sen. Tom Coburn, who released a “Wastebook” each year of the most frivolous uses of tax funds.
Here are seven of the most outrageous things the government spent your tax dollars last year.
1. Donald Trump’s Hotel
The Internal Revenue Service will spend $40 million on Donald Trump’s plan to turn Washington DC’s old Post Office into a luxury hotel. The funds come from the National Historic Tax Credit, and will offset the costs of renovating the building, which will ultimately pump Trump’s bottom line.
The report details:
The taxpayer-supported hotel will feature ‘272 richly furnished guest-rooms…with lofty 16-foot ceilings, soaring windows, beautifully restored historic millwork, and glittering crystal sconces and chandeliers.’ One of the two presidential suites will be 5,000 square feet—twice the average size of an American family home.
Is there anything more American than using tax credits to fund the construction of a luxury hotel in the nation’s capitol?
2. $43 Million On A Gas Station… In Afghanistan
The Department of Defense spent $42,718,739 million on a single gas station in Afghanistan that would pump natural gas in the hopes the country wouldn’t have to rely as heavily on imported fuel.
The problem, however, was that converting cars to run on natural gas is very expensive. It costs roughly more than the average annual income of Afghani citizens. The DOD ultimately had to close the gas station in March 2015 because virtually no one was frequenting it.
3. $5 Million On Twitter
In 2011, the Obama administration established the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, and gave it a $5 million annual budget. According to Lankford’s report, CSCC’s “Think Again Turn Away” project does little more than run the Twitter account for State, making those tweets awfully expensive.
4. $375,000 On Senior Citizens’ Dating Habits
The National Science Foundation spent $374,087 to better understand age-related changes in relationship habits. The study was conducted at the University of Texas at Austin and was aimed at determining whether the life experiences of older adults made it more difficult for them to be in a relationship.
The study’s abstract explains:
The current project aims to provide a more comprehensive understanding of relationship maintenance efforts across the lifespan through a multi-method study comparing the maintenance strategies of older adults in longstanding marriages, older adults in newly-formed romantic relationships, younger adults in longstanding relationships, and younger adults in newly-formed romantic relationships, as well as the implications of these strategies for emotional and physical well-being.
Ah, to be old and single again!
5. $50,000 On A Snail-Themed Card Game
In 2014, the National Science Foundation spent $50,000 in a grant awarded to CUNY Hunter College to produce a game and eBook about sea snails. They expect the eBook, which has yet to be developed, to be a best-seller.
Take a load of the NSF’s description of the free market:
There are relatively few eBooks or mobile games about marine organisms. The market is, thus, ready for marine biology learning tools that are informative, fun, and visually stimulating. Engaging stories can boost learning. Similar to Aesop’s fables or Grimm’s fairy tales, ‘Killer Snail: The eBook’ will be allegorical, conveying important life lessons, such as dealing with predators and avoiding danger.
They get it. The market is totally ready for “Killer Snail: The eBook.”
6. Over $48,000 On Solar-Powered Beer
From 2014-2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $48,810 in grants to fund solar panels for two breweries. The funds came from the USDA’s Rural Energy for America program, which was authorized as part of the 2002 farm bill.
Next time you crack a cold one, just think of the federal subsidies.
7. $5.75 Million On Preserving Other Countries’ Cultures
The State Department has been dumping millions into studying and conserving aspects of culture in other countries while our president runs around apologizing for ours.
“In 2014, State spent $700,000 to conserve a Buddhist temple in Vietnam, $40,000 to document Bengal folk music in India, and $33,000 to preserve Jamdani weaving traditions in Bangladesh,” the report stated.
While these efforts might seem nice, they don’t necessarily make sense when considering the objective of the department, which is to advance American interests.
This holiday season, give yourself the gift of enjoying what your tax dollars (or additional government debt) already paid for. Read through the studies on senior citizens’ dating habits, or, better yet, purchase that “Killer Snail” eBook for the budding marine biologist in your life. It’s your money, after all.