Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 26 98_Week_26

August 13, 2021 10:28 AM


The U.S. Spent $47 Billion in Foreign Aid — More Than Any Other Country | August 7, 2021


In 2018, the U.S. spent $46.9 billion on foreign aid — more than what 48 states spent in federal funding that year, the latest year available.

Our auditors at compiled these findings in a new oversight reportU.S. Foreign Aid: How and Where the U.S. Spent $282.6 Billion (Fiscal Years 2013-2018).

The United States spent $282.6 billion on foreign aid from 2013 to 2018, more than any other country in the world, the report found. We launched our report on The National Desk at Sinclair Broadcast Group — reaching 190 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliated TV stations.

California and New York are the only states whose federal funding exceeded the total 2018 foreign aid - $92.4 billion and $56.8 billion, respectively.

Other state governments, from Ohio, which received $15 billion in federal aid, and New Jersey ($15.6 billion), to Florida ($27 billion) and Pennsylvania ($29 billion), made out with less than foreign countries did.

The top two 2018 recipients of American foreign aid were Afghanistan ($6 billion) and Israel ($3 billion). They were followed by Jordan ($1.7 billion), Egypt ($1.2 billion), and Iraq ($1.2 billion).

Sub-Saharan Africa received 27% of U.S. foreign aid, the most of any region in the world. The Middle East & North Africa combined received the second highest amount of U.S. tax dollars, 24%.

The top international organizations that received U.S. funding in FY2019 were World Food Program ($2.6 billion); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ($1.7 billion); The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ($849 million); UNICEF ($672.9 million): and NATO ($624.5 million).

With the national debt at more than $28.5 trillion and counting, the U.S. may want to reconsider sending $46.9 billion in a single year to other countries.


Congress Has a History of Funding Silly Marijuana Projects | August 8, 2021


The last time Congress included marijuana in its “infrastructure spending,” taxpayers got a billboard featuring a giant glow-in-the-dark joint.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration paid $35,100 for the 28-foot-tall Denver billboard that tried to educate drivers about getting behind the wheel while high.

According to the Denver Post, the billboard was conceived and designed, at a cost of $16,600, by LoDo advertising agency Amélie Company. The “media buy” cost taxpayers $12,500 and installation was another $6,000.

While Colorado could have paid for the giant blunt with the $135 million it collected last year from marijuana sales taxes and licensing fees, American taxpayers watched federal highway dollars go up in smoke.

As more states allow marijuana in some form, there’s potential for more drivers to drive under the influence, so included in legislation this summer – in the $1.2 trillion “bipartisan” Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, H.R. 3684, is an order for officials to make marijuana more accessible to researchers (page 1200 of the infrastructure bill).

Section 25026 requires a report on marijuana research be made and create a national marijuana clearinghouse.

Officials, including administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will report to Congress and recommend ways for scientific researchers to study impairment while driving under the influence of marijuana.

The section establishes a national clearinghouse to collect and distribute samples and strains of marijuana for scientific research both in states where the drug is legal for medical and/or recreational use and in states where it’s not.

The officials will recommend ways to address federal statutory and regulatory barriers to conducting scientific research on marijuana-impaired driving.

Currently there are 44 states where some form of medical marijuana is legal (some allow CBD oil only), where 32 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana. Twenty-three states are considered fully legal.

That means plenty of opportunities for more 28-foot glow in the dark, doobie billboards.



The UN Makes Out Big with America’s Checkbook—$9.7 Billion Per Year | August 11, 2021


The United States gives $9.7 billion annually to 58 United Nations (UN) accounts.

Our auditors at compiled these findings in a new oversight report on U.S. foreign aid. The UN system, through 58 funding streams, received taxpayer money that included:

  • UN peacekeeping: $1.5 billion in FY2021 for dues, $10.3 billion over the last six years
  • UN regular budget: $685.5 million in FY2021 for dues, $2.5 billion over the last 3.5 years
  • World Food Program: $2.6 billion in FY2019
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: $1.7 billion in FY2019
  • United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund: $833 million in FY2020, $5.9 billion in U.S. funding over 14 years
  • World Health Organization: $230 million so far in FY2021, $4.1 billion in U.S. funding over 14 years
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency Palestinian aid: New $150 million in restarted aid announced in 2021, $6.3 billion sent from U.S. taxpayers since 1953

We launched our report on The National Desk at Sinclair Broadcast Group — reaching 190 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliated TV stations.

This is as congressional republicans introduced legislation to hinder efforts by the Chinese Communist Party and the Kremlin to undermine the U.N. Charter.

The "United Nations Transparency and Accountability Act," calls out Russia for allegedly manipulating the UN procurement process “to its own benefit” and alleges China "used its leadership roles within the U.N. to block nongovernmental organizations critical of the PRC from being accredited to the U.N," while its diplomats have "violated U.S. rules."

Giving $9.7 billion in American taxpayer funds annually to an organization that allows its member states to "engage in malign influence operations” is something the U.S. should reconsider.



UN Should've Said 'You're Fired' and Hired Trump in 2005 | August 12, 2021


Throwback Thursday! 

The United Nations building in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood was completely renovated over a decade at a cost of $2.3 billion. Then-developer Donald Trump testified under oath to Congress in 2005, that the renovation should cost only $700 million.

Work began in 2008 with an original price tag of $1.9 billion and was completed in 2017. Total cost? $2.3 billion.

Flash back to July 21, 2005, when the UN headquarters renovation was stalled and a topic of discussion in a meeting of the U.S. Senate Financial Oversight Committee, chaired by then-Senator Tom Coburn.

Witnesses testified about the proposed renovation. Then-developer Donald J. Trump testified, saying the contractors were overcharging and the people in charge at the UN “don’t know what they’re doing.”

At the time, the projected cost to renovate the 1952 building was $1.2 billion, while Trump said it shouldn’t cost more than $700 million. And that’s with removing the old terrazzo floors and adding all-marble floors. 

When Sen. Coburn said there was $471 million for contingency and professional fees, Trump was aghast. “Craziest number I ever heard.”

Trump said that, if more than $3 million or $4 million was spent on contingency for his $600 million Chicago project, he would "be very angry" at his people.

The overcharging wasn’t something he would do if he took over the project, he said.

“We have major slime in New York and much of that is in the form of contractors, isn’t that a sad thing to say?” he said. “And every one of them, I guarantee you, will find their way to the United Nations.”

What followed was a long bout of laughter. But in the end, the UN spent $2.3 billion over a decade.

Ending the Trump testimony, Sen. Coburn asked, “Mr. Trump, if someone in your organization paid twice the amount for projected costs, in two words or less, what would you say?”

With a big smile, Trump pointed and said, “You’re fired.”

Learn more about U.S. funding of the UN. Read our OpenTheBooks oversight report, U.S. Foreign Aid, here.


Spotting Cows From Space Cost U.S. Taxpayers At Least $45,000
 | August 13, 2021


Is that a cow or native tule elk?

That’s what 10 undergraduate students in a UC Santa Barbara lab asked for eight months while spotting the wildlife and livestock on satellite images.

It was part of a study that looked at the interactions between the two animals where their ranges met or overlapped in the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California.

Funded with a combined $45,000 from National Science Foundation and the Digital Globe Foundation, the study looked at where the grazing area abutted wildland, with concerns that predation, competition and disease transmission would occur.

The researchers had two large datasets from the park: GPS monitoring data from collared elk and field-based surveys of the elk. But they lacked information on the cows, mainly their movements and habits.

The student researchers found that the elk avoided cow pastures and chose separate foraging sites so there would be fewer potential instances for grazing conflicts.

An unrelated project from a business in Ohio got $225,000 from the National Science Foundation in 2019 to create a “cowculator” which allowed for automated cattle counting and temperature screening from aerial images.

These studies may be for scientific purposes, but they sound an awful lot like bull.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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