The items are big-ticket and small, laid out in football plays that cover regulations the senator says lead to unnecessary spending or actual spending he derides as wasteful.
His targets range from new, higher dishwasher efficiency standards that mandate so little water that food is left sticking to dishes — requiring another wash to be clean, not to mention inefficient — to a $2.6 million weight-loss program for truck drivers funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The fumbles also take a whack at a $250 million Defense Department program to train and provide equipment to just 60 Syrian rebels (the goal, according to the report, was $500 million to train and equip at least 5,400 rebels fighting the Islamic State); $30,000 to secure the habitat of the American Burying Beetle and $8 million spent by a Veterans Affairs hospital in Little Rock, Ark., to tear down 1,400 inactive solar panels to make way for a new parking garage.
“I present this report as a demonstration of ways we can cut back on wasteful federal spending and burdensome regulations…” the freshman senator wrote in an introduction to the report.
“Cited here are not only prime examples of wasteful spending, but also federal departments or agencies that regulate outside the scope of the federal government’s constitutional role,” Lankford wrote. “There is a way to eliminate wasteful, ineffective, or duplicative program spending; develop oversight methods to prevent future waste; and find ways to get us back on track.”
Waste-watchers used to revel in Coburn’s annual WasteBook, which highlighted duplicative programs, expensive gadgets owned or produced by various federal agencies and weird studies or programs. Lankford, elected last year to finish Coburn’s term after he retired for health reasons, is putting his own twist on the ritual.
Lankford isn’t only going after pork barrel projects favored by Democrats. Donald Trump’s use of tax credits to renovate the Old Post Office in Washington makes the list.
“Taxpayers are unlikely to be amused that they helped foot the bill through a $40 million tax credit thanks to the National Historic Tax Credit,” the report says.
Lankford also disparages a $374,087 National Science Foundation taxpayer-funded study of seniors’ dating habits.
“Unless this federal match.com for seniors develops policy solutions to bring down the debt,” the report says, “maybe this one is better left to the private sector.