Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Serving: United States
business strategy coffee stock art

A $1,220 Air Force coffee cup?

Outrageous examples of how government wastes your money.

The president of the United States sent a new budget to Congress on Monday. Let us hope the president and his team are aware of the billions of taxpayer dollars wasted by federal bureaucrats.

One organization called Open the Books, has done the American tax payer an enormous service by identifying what it believes to be wasted expenditures of taxpayer dollars. It is supported by studies from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which prepares reports of member and committees of congress. On July 16, 2018, the CRS issued a report entitled- Improper Payments in High Priority Programs: In Brief.

This report is required under the authority of The Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA) of 2002. The Act states improper payments are those that should not have been made in an incorrect amount, including both overpayments and underpayments.

The numbers are staggering. In table 2 of the report, improper payments were made for Medicare Fee for Service for $387 billion dollars between 2004 and 2017. Improper Medicare payments hit a high of $46 billion in 2014, and $36 billion in 2017.

The CRS report stated $192 billion were improperly paid out under the earned income tax credit. Open the Books has specific examples of outrageous expenditures.  For example, in fiscal year 2018, the U.S. Air Force admitted to spending $1,220 on a SINGLE coffee cup. The Travis Air Force Base website, indicated it bought TEN coffee cups for $9,630. The Air Force spent approximately $32,000 for twenty-five cups. (That should make your blood boil.)

Crop insurance, too

The USDA did not escape attention.

USDA’s crop insurance program is listed for improper payments; the numbers are miniscule compared to other categories. The total improper amount paid out in crop insurance from 2004-2017 was a mere $3.7 billion dollars.

USDA provided the Bug Eater labs a grant in 2017 to study how to incorporate bugs and protein into the human diet.

In the last week of the budget year 2017 the U.S. Department of State, in an effort not to lose budget money, spent $79,000 to buy alcohol on two days in September. Obviously, the bureaucrats must use the money or lose it. Even under President Trump, the Department of Defense spent $11 billion in one week on a year-end spending spree. Again, another example of “use it or lose it”.

Open the Books website supports what CRS is reporting. It issued a study stating the federal government employs 3,618 federal public affairs officers at a cost of $368.4 million. The report points out we have more of those folks - 5,000 plus, but only 3,618 are disclosed.

Costly couches

EPA does not escape improper payments scrutiny. Over the past ten years, it is revealed that EPA has spent approximately $92 million for what is called “upscale furniture”.

Finally, Open the Books examines all farm subsidies; particularly those flowing to America’s most expensive zip codes. Farm subsidies go to Hollywood, CA; Palm Beach, FL; and Park City, UT.

The last important study that causes one to question taxpayer spending involves a grant issued by the National Science Foundation which gave $1 million for a study entitled “Where Does it Hurt the Most to be Stung by a Bee?”

It is the taxpayer that is being stung!

 The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Farm Policy
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.