“This year,” said Paul in his preamble, “I am highlighting a whopping $52,598,515,585 of waste, including a study of pigeons gambling on slot machines, giving kids junk food, and telling citizens of Vietnam not to burn their trash.
“No matter how much money’s already been wasted,” Paul wrote, “politicians keep demanding even more.”
Getting past the humorous items like gambling pigeons, the biggest areas of abuse detailed by Paul in the report are in mismanagement of legitimate programs such as $36 billion spent on improper COVID unemployment insurance payments, $4.3 billion on ineligible or duplicate loans by the Small Business Administration in the Payroll Protection Program crafted for COVID, and $2.4 billion in U.S.-constructed buildings in Afghanistan that have now been abandoned to the Taliban.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 22, 2021
Afghanistan waste figures highly in the report, and not just because of abandoned weapons that Paul figures to be in the “billions” of dollars.
The report pegs overall waste in Afghanistan to be nearly $4 billion.
Throughout the war, for example, the U.S. used American aircraft to ferry coalition partners without asking them for the standard reimbursement.
“Due to the lack of data,” said the Festivus report, “there is no way of verifying how many millions of dollars were lost. The best estimate we have is $773 million,” based on contract awards.
The report pegs miscellaneous waste at $8.5 billion, including $250 million on border walls “in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman.”
Other notable items include $4.5 million on breeding ferrets for animal testing and $11.3 million on the prevention of trash burning in Vietnam, which as Paul noted, really isn’t an air quality problem in Vietnam.
“But it turns out the bulk of the areas in Vietnam with unhealthy air quality are in the northern part of the country,” said the report, “where wind currents blow polluted air south from China, and east from Thailand.”
The price tag, by the way, for pigeons gambling on slot machines: $465,339