Five Outrageous Ways the Federal Government Has Wasted Your Money (Pt. II)

The federal government is no stranger to out-of-control spending. The national debt has now reached a startling $21 trillion!

That’s not all: Congress recently passed an omnibus spending package that will cost $1.3 trillion. But wasteful federal spending doesn’t stop there.

The federal government has misused your money on various pet projects, both large and small, over the years. It’s time to expose this waste.

Read on to discover five more absurd examples of government waste, as described in Sen. Jeff Flake’s 2017 Wastebook report.

$1.5 Million Spent Studying Fish on Treadmills 

University of California – San Diego study spent a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to measure the endurance of mudskipper and bluegill fish on a treadmill.

Sounds like a fishy use of taxpayer funds!

While the National Science Foundation regularly gives grants to universities for research purposes, that taxpayer-funded research is best when it has some tangible benefit for the American people who pay for it.

$1.7 Million Spent on a Comedy Club Featuring Dead Comedian Holograms

The U.S. Department of Commerce spent $1.7 million to help construct a comedy museum in Jamestown, New York that will “resurrect” dead comedians – from Lucille Ball to George Carlin – in the form of holograms.

The holograms will perform in a basement bar for visitors of the National Comedy Center, as a way to attract tourists to Jamestown.

While tourists might chuckle at the holographic comedians, the $1.7 million bill for the project on the taxpayer’s dime is no laughing matter.

$3 Million Spent Studying the Jaws Theme and People’s Perception of Sharks 

In 2016, taxpayers funded a $3 million National Science Foundation grant to study the public’s fear of sharks in relation to the Jaws theme song and music played during documentaries.

Researches noted, “this study specifically highlights the need to raise the public’s awareness of the effect of background music in shark documentaries in hope that it would decrease the extent by which they are affected by it.”

With federal debt soaring, the feds should work to be better stewards of our tax dollars and ensure that every research project funded is a worthwhile use of those dollars. Spending $3 million to study the Jaws theme’s impact on shark perception is not.

The Department of Defense Spent $2.4 Million to Learn How to Get More “Likes” on Social Media  

The Department of Defense funded a $2.4 million study to “counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information,” as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Social Media in Strategic Communications program.

The researchers examined 1.1 randomly selected photos on Instagram and analyzed numbers of follower on social media accounts.

More than $2 million is a hefty price tag for taxpayers to spend on research that could (and has) easily been done by private groups.  

$3.4 Million Spent on Hamster Cage Matches  

Over the past twenty years, the National Institutes of Health has spent $3.4 million studying aggression and anxiety in more than 1,000 male hamsters.

The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, involves pitting juvenile male hamsters against each other at Northeastern University in Boston.

Much like a hamster wheel, our national debt continues to spin out of control. It’s time for the federal government to stop wasteful spending on pet projects and use our hard-earned tax dollars in a more responsible manner.

While many of these examples may seem funny, wasteful spending is no joke.

The federal government has spent millions of your hard-earned tax dollars over the years on pointless projects, and the cost borne by current and future taxpayers only continues to grow.

Tell Congress to stop wasting our hard-earned tax dollars and cut wasteful and egregious spending as they write the FY 2019 spending bills.

The post Five Outrageous Ways the Federal Government Has Wasted Your Money (Pt. II) appeared first on Americans for Prosperity.

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U.S. Supreme Court Reconsiders Online Sales Tax Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court is reconsidering a longstanding decision preventing states from requiring out-of-state businesses to collect and remit sales taxes on purchases made by residents of their states.

Oral arguments in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. began on April 17.

In the 1992 case Quill v. North Dakota, the Court established the “nexus” standard for business taxation, declaring a business need not remit sales taxes unless it maintains a physical location, or nexus, in the taxing jurisdiction. Consumers are supposed to pay the tax directly to governments, but compliance is rare.

Lawyers representing 41 states, including South Dakota, are asking the court to overturn the Quill decision.

Matter of Jurisdiction

Tim Huelskamp, president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says state governments lack the constitutional authority to tax people outside their borders.

“The United States is essentially 50 free markets,” Huelskamp said. “The Quill decision made it clear that, [for example] New York has no authority to tax folks in Kansas if the business doesn’t have a presence there, which matches all kinds of constitutional standards. We’re going to let the state of California reach into every state in the Union? It’s certainly scary to proponents of limited government.”

More Taxes, More Problems

Andrew Moylan, president of the National Taxpayers Union, says reversing the Quill decision would hit small business owners with more taxes and complex paperwork.

“Large retailers already have to collect tax in every state because they have storefronts, warehouses, or employees in states across the country,” Moylan said. “The people who would be negatively impacted by this are those small- and medium-sized businesses, and particularly people who utilize so-called marketplaces—think of websites like eBay or Etsy or even Amazon Marketplace.”

Huelskamp says states should reduce spending and enforce existing laws instead of trying to tax outsiders.

“I think we have a spending problem in most of these states, not a revenue problem,” Huelskamp said. “There are a number of other options. Eighty percent of this revenue is already collectible under current law.”

Interstate Commerce Slowdown

Moylan says undoing Quill would cause many business owners to stop selling to out-of-state consumers.

“They’d see huge compliance costs and major complexity to the point where they would most likely just not sell across state lines,” Moylan said. “If businesses find it too complicated to engage in interstate commerce, they will simply stop.”

Editor’s Note: This article was published in cooperation with The Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News.

PHOTO: The Supreme Court Building of the United States from the dome of the capitol building. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Farragutful. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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