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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

‘Festivus Report’ finds hundreds of billions in government waste

Dec 27, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., ninth annual “Festivus Report” has been released, outlining hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending which the senator describes as wasteful. It includes payments to dead people, an island to breed research monkeys, and military equipment left outside to rust. 

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The report includes more than 20 examples of what Paul labels as waste. Here are just a few. 

Big spending: 

Two of the biggest numbers are $659 billion for interest payments on the national debt and $236 billion in “improper federal payments.”

The federal government spends more than it collects in revenue each year and borrows money from countries like China to make up the difference.

The national debt currently sits at about $34 trillion, and the government made $659 billion in interest payments alone in 2023.

Improper payments are defined as money paid by the federal government to the wrong person, for the wrong amount or for the wrong reason. That includes payments for Medicaid, earned income tax credits, and the VA purchasing long-term services and supports. 

COVID fraud: 

The government wanted to make it easy to get COVID relief money, but this example shows that in some cases it was way too easy. 

Fraudsters got past the AI system used to validate proof of identity for Paycheck Protection Program funds by using Barbies.

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It is unclear the exact amount that went to these fakes, however, in June the Small Business Administration (SBA) estimated that it disbursed more than $200 billion in potentially fraudulent COVID funds, including Paycheck Protection Program money and economic injury disaster loans. At least $30 billion has been seized or returned to the SBA.

Monkey Island: 

WJCL exposed “Monkey Island” about a decade ago. The island, on the coast of South Carolina, is used as a breeding colony where thousands of monkeys live to ultimately be taken to research labs around the country for testing.

According to the Post and Courier, the federal government paid Charles River Labs $16.7 million to run the facility between 2018 and 2022.

According to the Festivus Report, the National Institutes of Health signed another $33 million contract this year, which will pay a local company to house, feed and care for the monkeys.

Military waste: 

The military had an $816 billion budget in 2023, but Sen. Paul said millions were wasted. The Festivus Report highlighted a Defense Department audit that found $170 million worth of engines, transmissions and vehicle treads were left outside for years.

A report from the Army Times went even more in-depth and found that $1.8 billion in military equipment was left outside to either deteriorate or be at risk of deterioration. 

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[RAY BOGAN]

From tens of millions of dollars in payments to dead people, an island for test monkeys and military equipment left outside to rust, the federal government wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in 2023. 

That’s according to Senator Rand Paul’s ninth annual Festivus report, which Paul says highlights ways the government irresponsibly spends your taxpayer money. 

The Festivus report includes more than 20 examples of what Paul labels waste – here are just a few. 

Let’s start off with the two biggest numbers: $659 billion for interest payments on the $34 trillion national debt and $236 billion in what are called improper federal payments which are defined as money paid by the federal government to the wrong person, for the wrong amount or for the wrong reason. 

Next, the government wanted to make it easy to get covid relief money, but this example shows that in some cases, it was way too easy. 

Fraudsters got past the AI system used to check proof of identity for Paycheck Protection Program funds using these Barbies. We don’t know the exact amount that went to these flawless fakes, but we do know that in June the Small Business Administration estimated that it disbursed more than $200 billion in potentially fraudulent COVID funds including paycheck protection program money and economic injury disaster loans. At Least $30 billion has been seized or returned to the SBA.

This is the story from WJCL that exposed what’s called monkey island, a breeding colony where thousands of monkeys live to ultimately be taken to research labs around the country for testing. Between 2018 to 2022, the federal government paid Charles River Labs $16.7 million to run the facility. According to the Festivus report, the National Institute of Health signed another $33 million contract this year, which will pay a local company to house, feed and care for the monkeys. 

The military had an $816 billion budget in 2023, but Senator Paul said millions were wasted. The festivus report highlighted a Defense Department Audit that found $170 million worth of engines, transmissions and vehicle treads were left outside for years causing serious damage. 

This report from the Army Times went even more in depth and found that $1.8 billion in military equipment was left outside causing it to either deteriorate or be at risk of deterioration. 

There are some more dishonorable mentions in the festivus report, including another $38 billion in Covid relief payments to dead people, bringing the total for the pandemic to about $270 billion. If you want to see the rest of the Festivus report, head to san.com.