A new report by Open the Books details the 560,771 grants the federal government doled out in fiscal year 2016. The results are not pretty.
The report shows earmarks (aka “pork”) are a bipartisan problem that cost taxpayers $583 billion in FY 2016. A breakdown of the 10 congressional districts receiving the most pork shows an even split: 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans. A look at the top 50 grant-receiving districts shows Democrats holding a slight edge over Republicans (27-23).
Earmarked dollars can be targeted for practically any project under the sun. For example, $1.5 million was tapped for sex education for prostitutes in California—despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in the Golden State. The bulk of the dollars ($505 billion) went directly to state governments, followed by higher education institutions ($35 billion) and nonprofit organizations ($19.8 billion).
But corporations get in on the action, too. Matthew Tyrmand, Deputy Director of Open the Books, said Fortune 100 companies received $3.2 billion in grants between FY 2014 and FY 2016.
“Boeing can’t argue it needed $774 million in federal grants while reporting nearly $95 billion in 2016 annual revenue,” Tyrmand said.
Below are some additional examples of how taxpayer funds were spent in FY 2016:
- Virtual Reality Platform to Teach Children in China How to Cross the Street – $183,750 from the Department of Health and Human Services funded a virtual reality platform in China to teach safe pedestrian techniques.
- New Condom Design with More Lubrication – $200,601 in taxpayer money funded a new condom design that lowers the chance of breakage and increases “satisfaction between partners.”
- Cigar Taste Test – $114,375 funded a study to determine whether cigar flavor affected its addictiveness.
- Space Racers: An Animated Children’s Cartoon – $2.5 million in NASA funding supported the production of two seasons of a children’s cartoon series about galactic adventures.
- How can we rein in this insanity? The people must bring the heat, so the politicians see the light on fiscal restraint.
As of Friday, the federal debt stood at $21.2 trillion. Read the entire Open the Books report here.
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.