Congressman Tom McClintock, who represents this area, has highlighted several government boondoggles that show just a few of the many ways our government wastes our tax money.
One is “Essential Air Service.” It’s small potatoes relative to the $5 trillion deficit President Obama and his previous Democratic majority have run up since 2008, but every little bit helps. In this case it’s a government subsidy of $200 million annually to “support empty and near-empty flights from selected airports in tiny communities — most of which are just a few hours’ drive from major airports,” McClintock said.
He noted that one such airport is in Ely, Nev., where a reporter took one of these flights and was the only passenger. The cost of subsidizing flights to and from Ely was $1.8 million. Ely is in eastern Nevada, a 3.5-hour drive from Salt Lake International Airport. With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid being from Nevada, McClintock’s effort is so much dust in the wind.
But it is programs like this that show where our money goes and how it is wasted on non-essential programs. Another example from the same program is Thief River Falls, Minn., which is declared an essential air service even though it is an hour an 10 minutes away from Grand Forks International Airport in North Dakota. Same for Hagerstown, Md., 75 miles away from Baltimore, the major airport for passengers coming to Washington, D.C.
Another river of government thievery is $3.4 billion spent annually for the Community Developement Block Grant program. Created in 1974 to eliminate blight and provide affordable housing, according to McClintock, its legal authority expired in 1994 — 18 years ago.
McClintock said it “has degenerated into a federal slush fund for pet projects of local politicians and politically connected businesses. It is plagued by profligate waste and outright fraud.”
Pet projects indeed.
As noted by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., “Summit County, Ohio, spent $100,000 of CDBG funds to create a ‘doggie day care’ and kennel last year and Nyack, N.Y., directed $10,000 of CDBG funds to Amazing Grace Circus Inc. in 2009 to put on ‘A Day at the Circus.’ CDBG funds are being spent creating a hip atmosphere for employees of an L.A. architectural firm, providing decorative sidewalks in a wealthy Virginia community and upgrading Victorian cottages in Alabama.”
Some communities even use these grants to pay off federal loans “now defaulting because they have failed to produce the promised benefits,” McClintock added.
And Congress wants to spend $400 million more than it spent last year.
And that, folks, is where the money goes.