Sen. Lankford Continues Fighting for Taxpayers with Release of 2016 Wastebook

Michi Iljazi

November 30, 2016

This week, continuing a tradition started by former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) released the second edition of his wastebook, Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball, Vol II. The report (here) details $247 billion in questionable spending and regulations. The Taxpayers Projection Alliance (TPA) applauds Sen. Lankford for carrying on what is not only a noteworthy tradition, but also a useful policy tool that can help guide the way on how to eliminate wasteful programs and expensive regulations.

Here are some of the most ridiculous examples from the 2016 edition of Federal Fumbles:


  • $2 million for a multi-year study on how kids don’t want to eat food that’s been sneezed on (National Institutes for Health).

  • $2 million on inappropriately high salaries and also custom snuggies to the University of Washington (National Science Foundation).
  • $500,000 grant to explore the connection between religion, politics and cemeteries in 12th century Iceland (National Science Foundation).
  • $495,000 in grants spending taxpayer money on an exhibit focusing on “Medieval Smells’ (Institute for Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities).
  • $412,930 spent to research the “connection between feminism and the study of glaciers” (National Science Foundation).


  • Methane emissions rule on oil and natural gas wells, potential cost of more than $400 million (Environmental Protection Agency).
  • Multiple agencies have failed to comply with the Congressional Rule Act, with 43 of those rules unreported to Congress having a cost exceeding $100 million. (Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, and the Department of Education).
  • Congressional requirement forcing one agency to operate a duplicative healthcare plan that costs taxpayers more than $1 billion annually (Department of Defense).

Sen. Lankford is not only using his platform to expose government waste, he is also going one step further by giving ideas on what to do about the problem, saying:

“We are not just trying to raise the problem; we are also trying to raise how you solve it. Whether it is an administration action, whether it is a piece of legislation, whether it is just coordination between the two, or some of those things that have already happened, but we haven’t engaged in it enough to provide the oversight needed to actually get the coordination. Every single one of these identify here is the problem, here is the issue, and here is how to solve it.”

Sen. Lankford’s efforts are not only being recognized by TPA and other taxpayer advocates, but they are also getting results. Here are some examples of the positive impact last year’s Federal Fumbles report had on exposing government waste:

  • Subsidized Wind– Sen. Lankford helped secure a provision in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations funding bill that included a three-year phasedown of the wind energy tax credit. 

  • Misuse of Public Housing – More than 25,000 US families received federally subsidized housing from HUD, despite not being qualified for the program.  Sen. Lankford helped secure a provision in the HUD appropriations bill requiring implementation of an IG report’s recommendations on this issue.

  • Disability is Only for the Disabled – Sen. Lankford’s efforts helped saved taxpayers millions of dollars by halting an attempt by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to expedite their case backlog by using a new and costly system that was not legally sound.

  • Caution: Read Before Eating – After exposing a costly and redundant food labeling rule from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the wastebook, Sen. Lankford helped to force the FDA to pause the rule, which was estimated to entail more than $1 billion in compliance costs on our nation’s grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

TPA encourages everyone to read the report and contact your member of Congress and demand they take action to not only amplify the waste highlighted by Sen. Lankford, but also work towards getting rid of these senseless programs and costly regulations.

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