Today, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a report on Defense Department spending that has nothing to do with defense. “The threat of our national debt can be defeated by reviewing every department, every program, and expenditure within the federal budget, including at the Defense Department (DOD),” the report says. “We must eliminate waste and duplication to refocus the Pentagon to its true mission: fighting and winning the nation’s wars.
Coburn targets five areas that have nothing to do with defense spending:
- Research projects that have nothing to do with defense ($6 billion);
- Education in the United States ($15.2 billion);
- Energy research ($700 million);
- Grocery stores in the United States ($9 billion);
- Overhead, support, and supply services ($37 billion).
What are some of the worst offenses? Try these on for size:
- $100,000 for a “strategy planning workshop on the 100 Year Starship project last year,” which “included an interesting discussion involving the Klingons, a fictional alien species who were villains and then later allies of humanity in the Star Trek series. The session entitled ‘Did Jesus die for Klingons too?’ featured philosophy professor Christian Weidemann of German’s Ruhr-University Bochum”;
- An analysis of Twitter users’ slang;
- Development of a phone app to tell you when you’re short on caffeine;
- Pentagon research on democracy … among fish;
- Development of beef jerky roll-ups ($1.5 million);
- Study of why men with guns look more masculine;
- $40,000 for a contest in locating ten red balloons.
The sequester may be over the top. But clearly somebody needs to take a scalpel to Defense Department spending.