Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has released his “America’s Most Wasted” list for 2016, featuring $13 billion that Congress spent on incapable ships, bad-behaving Pentagon employees, African rats and more.
Each year Sen. McCain, as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, publishes a list of the most ridiculous U.S. government spending on behalf of taxpayers. The 2015 report identified $294 billion in funding on expired federal programs, as well as $1.1 billion on the wasteful projects.
Perhaps the most egregious waste of taxpayers’ money in 2015 was the National Endowment for the Arts award of a $30,000 grant for a Vermont showing of the incredibly racist White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show. The show, which supposedly “sustains one’s faith in the power of human imagination and childlike wonder,” features ventriloquist dummies named “Mr. Butch Manly” and “White-Man,” who will prepare the whole family for the “upcoming de-honky-ization of the United States when white people in America will be…‘just another other.”
With President-elect Trump wanting to rebuild the U.S. military, the “2016 America’s Most Wasted” list focuses on wasteful defense spending. Despite what Senator McCain says was an effort to “root out the wasteful spending that edges out spending on the real military capabilities needed to defend our nation,” he highlights “misplaced spending priorities of both the Congress and the Department of Defense (DOD),” including:
- $12 billion for 26 Littoral Combat Ships with no proven combat capability;
- $458 million paid out inappropriately for travel expense reimbursements, including $1 million in travel reimbursements for unauthorized spending at casinos and strip clubs;
- $375 million for Missile Defense Agency (MDA) targets that weren’t used or didn’t work;
- $58 million for Navy alternative fuel experiments to power its “Great Green Fleet”; and
- $12 million for defective spare parts that will need to be replaced or refunded.
McCain calls the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) an “unfortunate and classic example of how DOD acquisitions have continually gone awry.” The program passed in 2002 and the contracts were awarded in 2004. The program was initially estimated to cost $220 million per ship and to deliver “combat capability in mine countermeasures in 2008.” But the “LCS program unit cost has more than doubled to $478 million, and the mine countermeasures capability is still not operational and not expected to be until 2020.”
Each “America’s Most Wasted” report reads like a horror story of government incompetence and crony capitalism. But by making such questionable government spending more transparent, Senator McCain is providing a valuable service to taxpayers.