An $85 million loan for a hotel complex in Kabul, a billion dollars in missing equipment for Iraqi forces and a $30,000 grant to stage “Doggie Hamlet” are just a few examples of the “Federal Fumbles” a Republican senator has flagged in a new report on wasteful government spending.
The 86-page report from Sen. James Lankford identified $437.6 billion in “wasteful and inefficient” federal spending.
“We’ve got every variety -- from very small to very, very large areas of waste and areas where the federal government just dropped the ball,” the Oklahoma lawmaker and fiscal hawk told “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
Lankford said the billion in missing equipment in Iraq -- which was flagged in a Defense Department inspector general’s report and included small arms and Humvees -- was last seen in Kuwait.
“But we don’t know what happened from there,” Lankford said Monday. “A billion dollars’ worth of equipment. We hope it got into the right hands. But DoD didn’t actually track it. We don’t know.”
As for “Doggie Hamlet,” the report criticized a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the production in New Hampshire. The play reportedly featured actors yelling and running at sheep in a field.
Lankford says he has “no problem” with the production -- but taxpayers across the country shouldn’t have to pay for it. “I certainly don’t want the people of Oklahoma to pay for that,” he said.
The waste report is subtitled “100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball” and also highlights successes in the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse -- under similar football-themed categories of “Touchdowns” and “Forward Progress.”
The report also called out the IRS for firing, then re-hiring IRS employees, including some who hadn't paid their federal taxes.
In releasing the report on Capitol Hill, Lankford said the wasteful spending examples are “illustrations of a larger set of issues” and provide "context" for concerns about the federal debt and budget process.
He said waste and inefficiencies mean less money for essentials like transportation, national defense and disaster relief.
“For us to be able to afford to do these things, we’ve got to be able to pay better attentions to other things,” Lankford told reporters.
This is the third volume of Lankford’s annual report. It cites as the costliest “fumble” an under-utilized IRS program to improve the auditing process for tax returns, considering a recent analysis estimates $458 billion is lost annually as a result of incorrect or fraudulently filed returns.
Among the report’s “Touchdowns” is the EPA announcement in June to repeal the Waters of the United States rule, “which allows the agency to work with states and Tribal governments, as it had done for decades, to decide who has regulatory authority over waterways.”