Coburn Releases 'Wastebook' Detailing More Than $6.5 Billion in 'Unnecessary' Spending

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn on Tuesday released his annual "Wastebook" highlighting what he's labeled some of the government's most wasteful spending items, including $113,000 for a video game preservation center and $765,000 to subsidize "pancakes for yuppies" in Washington.

Coburn, a Republican who is known around Washington as "Dr. No" for his opposition to excess spending, said in a press release Tuesday that his "Wastebook 2011" details the "most egregious ways your taxpayer dollars were wasted" -- items he claims total more than $6.5 billion in "unnecessary" spending.

"Video games, robot dragons, Christmas trees, and magic museums. This is not a Christmas wish list, these are just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars," Coburn said in a statement.

Among the items on Coburn's list include $10 million for a remake of "Sesame Street" for Pakistan and $764,825 to examine how college students use mobile devices for social networking.

The "Wastebook" also claims $550,000 was spent for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as $48,700 for a festival promoting Hawaii's chocolate industry.

"Instead of cutting wasteful spending, nearly $2.5 billion was added each day in 2011 to our national debt, which now exceeds $15 trillion," Coburn said.

Coburn noted that nearly $1 million went to projects in his own state, including nearly $400,000 for the state's agriculture department to study how different colors on shade cloths affect vegetable growth.

In his report, Coburn, who used very colorful language to describe what has been his campaign to rein in deficit spending, wrote that while some of the items listed in the book may have merit, they are not national priorities, and shouldn't be undertaken when the country can't deal with a massive and growing deficit.

He added that with a 9 percent approval rating, "perhaps there was no bigger waste of the
taxpayer's money in 2011 than Congress itself."

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