Sen. Coburn: “Beauty bailouts for Senators charged to taxpayers”

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In looking at the federal budget, neither party is all that serious about reducing or eliminating deficits. Republicans tend to avoid looking at the Pentagon for savings, and Democrats almost entirely refuse to examine social spending. A fiscal crises is the only possible result of these attitudes.

In light of this bipartisan failure to prioritize the country over politics, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has decided to highlight taxpayer-provided perks for those in the halls of Congress. From a letter sent to Congressional leaders of both chambers, some examples of ridiculous waste:

  • The U.S. Botanical Gardens received $12 million in funding, some of which went to a photography class for Hill staffers for education on how to artistically photograph flowers.
  • Both the House and the Senate have classes for Hill staffers on things like healthy eating, “breaking the ice” in social situations, and the benefit of proper sleep.
  • A barbershop and hair salon for Senators ran a deficit of $401,000 last year – which taxpayers covered.
  • Former Speakers of the House can request up to $1 million annually for five years for “tying up unfinished business,” among other things.
  • The Capitol Building has two gift shops that lose money.
  • Bill printing costs over $100 million annually – yet much could be saved if Congress relied more on the Internet and less on paper.

When it comes to federal spending, it is social spending, defense, and interest payments that dominate the federal budget. But if Congress can’t even eliminate the spending Coburn has outlined in his letter, how can we trust them to enact even modest reforms to programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and defense?