Federal fraud, waste and abuse

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

The federal government spent many millions of our taxpayer dollars on a fancy, over-hyped Climate Change Conference in Paris last week, including nearly $2 million to send President Obama and a cast of hundreds to one of the most expensive cities in the world. This is just the latest example of how the Feds spend our tax dollars on dubious “feel good” projects.

One of the main purposes of the Paris extravaganza was to blame global warming on the U.S. and to blackmail us into spending millions more taxpayer dollars to subsidize alleged environmental cleanup measures by so-called “developing” nations. In other words, we paid more than 20 percent of the total cost of this lavish conference so developing nations like China, India, Mexico, Brazil and Russia — all major polluters — could bash us for destroying the global environment. We’re supposed to set specific goals for reducing greenhouse gases while they think about doing something somewhere down the road. No thanks!

Most of the world leaders and environmental champions like Al Gore and Bill Gates flew to Paris in their private jets, spewing an estimated 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere along the way. President Obama arrived in Paris accompanied by a 500-person entourage including 200 Secret Service agents, a team of six doctors, four speechwriters, 12 teleprompters, and 35 vehicles including the heavily armored presidential limo. Let’s call it the imperial presidency.

That’s what Obama took to London for a G-20 Summit earlier this year and he probably needed more security in Paris due to recent terror attacks by ISIS. And by the way, our president thinks global warming is a greater threat to U.S. national security than radical Islamic terrorism. Go figure!

So this is how the federal government spends our tax dollars despite all the talk by presidential candidates from both major parties about downsizing the federal government and making it more cost-effective. You can bet taxes and spending will increase after the next president takes office in January, 2017.

Aside from multi-million-dollar international boondoggles and $3 million presidential vacations to Hawaii, fraud, waste and abuse are alive and well in Washington, D.C. We saw a shocking example of that recently when the embattled Veterans Administration (VA), under fire for mismanagement, doled out more than $140 million in taxpayer-funded performance awards to nearly half of the VA’s 340,000 employees. As USA Today commented, “It’s hard to fathom that half of the employees of the scandal-plagued agency were deserving, particularly recipients tied to various scandals.” Amen.

Similar shenanigans are going on at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other federal agencies. For example, Lois Lerner, who denied tax breaks to conservative organizations, received $129,300 in bonuses in the three years leading up to her scandal, and retired with a full pension despite stonewalling a congressional investigation of the IRS. This is what passes for personnel management in the federal government, where it’s virtually impossible to fire anyone.

Meanwhile, we learned the Defense Department has been engaging in “paid patriotism” by shelling out millions of taxpayer dollars to National Football League (NFL) teams over the past four years. According to Sports Illustrated, the Atlanta Falcons received $879,000 and the New England Patriots received $700,000 to organize on-field tributes to the military. “You might think that the Pentagon could have simply asked publicly for teams to honor their troops for free,” wrote S.I. columnist Michael Rosenberg. But no, DoD chose to pay millions of tax dollars to the billionaires who own the teams — another head-scratcher.

Well, that’s how the federal government spends our tax dollars. So what else is new?

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.


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