Conservatives are optimistic that a Trump administration will bring positive changes to business as usual in Washington. But one badly needed change could be the most difficult of all: reigning in government waste and overspending.
Here's an example: In just the last year, the Department of Defense spent more than $42 million on one gas station in Afghanistan. It was meant to tap the natural gas reserves in the country, but DOD forgot to ask if the natural gas could be brought to the station. It can't.
Here's another example: The National Science Foundation spending $1.2 million on a robotic system meant to choose clothes from the closets of the elderly.
Or this one from Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), who put together what he calls the Waste Book: "The National Park Service did a study on what do bugs do when you turn on the light in a dark, rural place. Every person in rural Oklahoma can tell you what bugs do when you turn on the lights in a dark place."
The 154-page book looks at government waste, fraud, inefficiencies, deceit, and overregulation. Some section titles from the senator's report, officially titled "Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball":
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the federal deficit for FY2016 was $587 billion – and the overall debt is now $19.5 trillion. The federal debt has grown by $9 trillion during Barack Obama's time in the Oval Office – nearly matching the total amount of debt accumulated by all of his predecessors.
- "Icelandic Grave Diggers"
- "Sea Duck Census"
- "Really Old Fish Bones"
- "Medieval Smells"
- "USDA Looks for More Wine Drinkers and Prune Eaters"
- "Those Aren't Even Our Cows"
- "Don't Text and Chew"
Lankford says such programs all combine to put the U.S. in massive debt that he contends – under the current budget plan – will take lifetimes to repay.
"That means ten years from now we'd be back to balance. Let's just hypothetically say the eleventh year we had a $50-billion surplus, [which] would be a pretty good surplus for us," he states. "We would have to continue to do it every year for the next 460 years to pay off our debt.
"I think we're losing track of how difficult this is really going to be long term," he adds.
But, he insists, it can be done in a much shorter timeframe by trimming the fat and cutting back on the waste, in addition to other economic growth measures.
"For me, the items listed in this book are a to-do list for the next year," he writes in the introduction. "They are examples of violations of the public's trust that must be prevented from happening again." Toward that end, he urges Americans to write to their members of Congress and demand action.
This is the second edition of Lankford's "Federal Fumbles" report.
Senator Lankford made his comments on FOX News on Monday.