A few days after Congress passed a massive $2.3 trillion spending package, Senator Rand Paul released his annual Festivus Report, airing his grievances of government excess and spending.
For Seinfeld aficionados, Dec. 23 is Festivus — a secular holiday created by author Daniel O’Keefe and popularized by the show’s Frank Costanza. O’Keefe’s son Dan O’Keefe co-wrote an episode that featured the spoof holiday. Key features of the holiday include a bare aluminum pole, demonstrating feats of strength, and of course, the airing of grievances.
“Good morning and Happy #Festivus,” Paul tweeted. “Today we will air some more grievances in the holiday tradition!”
He went on to note that this year’s federal spending was one for the books.
“Spending was about 50% higher than last year, and payments of interest on the public debt remained extremely high at $387 billion. If you laid out that many $1 bills end to end, it’d be enough to wrap around the earth 1,506 times,” Paul wrote. “Our debt puts at risk the long-term solvency of major programs such as Social Security. And why? To pay for test tubes for COVID tests that turn out to be soda bottles?”
Rand Paul’s report documented more than $54.7 billion worth of “totally wasted money.” He points to projects and studies that received federal fundings and identifies the total value of grants used to conduct the research.
According to Paul, the amount of money was enough to fund the entire Treasury Department for three years, the HUD for six months, or buy every citizen a 40-inch television.
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The “waste” spending varies from failed international missions, such as $8.6 billion spent in Afghanistan to boost counternarcotics efforts or $23.9 billion spent “trying unsuccessfully to replace the Bradley [Fighting Vehicle],” to oddities including $1.3 million researchers accessed to determine whether people would knowingly eat ground-up bugs or $2 million spent testing whether hot tubs lower stress.
The report identified $896,000 spent by the National Institutes of Health “to give cigarettes to adolescent kids to test their reactions to various levels of nicotine in the cigarettes.”
“Sometimes one can start out with the best intentions but, by the time one arrives at one’s destination, they are doing something so obviously wrong that it’s clear to everybody but them,” the report continued. “No matter what their intention was, manifestly, the Brown University researchers are using American taxpayer dollars to give cigarettes to children. It does not matter that the researchers sought out juvenile smokers, enabling their addictive and unhealthy behaviors.”
When debuting his new report, Paul gibed that President Trump stole his thunder in a Tuesday evening video criticizing the latest spending package.
“I spent all year writing a Festivus waste report and he just tweeted it out,” Paul tweeted.
“Congress has every tool it needs to fight and end government waste,” Paul’s report stated. “It’s just a matter of finding the willpower to use them. Rest assured, I will keep fighting for fiscal sanity and providing my colleagues in Congress with the opportunity to find their fiscal backbone!”