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Pancakes for Yuppies

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma) released his newest report on government waste yesterday, according to the press release from his office. Wastebook 2011 “highlights over $6.5 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways your taxpayer dollars were wasted. Wastebook 2011 “details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects spread throughout the federal government.”

The press release goes on to say:

“Video games, robot dragons, Christmas trees, and magic museums. This is not a Christmas wish list, these are just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars. Over the past 12 months, politicians argued, debated and lamented about how to reign in the federal government’s out of control spending. All the while, Washington was on a shopping binge, spending money we do not have on things we do not absolutely need. Instead of cutting wasteful spending, nearly $2.5 billion was added each day in 2011 to our national debt, which now exceeds $15 trillion,” Dr. Coburn said.

“Congress cannot even agree on a plan to pay for the costs of extending jobless benefits to the millions of Americans who are still out of work. Yet, thousands of millionaires are receiving unemployment benefits and billions of dollars of improper payments of unemployment insurance are being made to individuals with jobs and others who do not qualify. And remember those infamous bridges to nowhere in Alaska that became symbols of government waste years ago? The bridges were never built, yet the federal government still spent more than a million dollars just this year to pay for staff to promote one of the bridges.”

My favorite was “paying for pancakes” in which “(a)lmost $800,000 of federal taxpayer funds went to subsidize ‘“pancakes for yuppies’” in the Columbia Heights section of the nation‘s capital. The report, Wastebook 2011: A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low-Priority Government Spending of 2011 (requires Adobe) further explains ‘pancakes for yuppies’ this way:

“An International House of Pancakes (IHOP) franchise was built with financial assistance courtesy of Uncle Sam. It was intended to help an ‘underserved community.’  The federal funding went to the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation.  According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), ―$500,000 of the $765,000 grant was used as an equity injection in DC Pancakes LLC for a 19% ownership interest.‖ 29 The remaining funds went to training costs for new employees, and other consultants.

“The new IHOP is not located in an ―underserved community‖ but a popular Washington D.C. neighborhood.30  The neighborhood is Columbia Heights, which has become a local shopping hot spot for some and “one of Washington‘s more desirable neighborhoods.” Other businesses in the area include Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, and Starbucks.

“The restaurant chain is best known for its “world famous” buttermilk pancake flavors.  Options on the menu include chocolate chip, CINN-A-STACK, and New York Cheesecake pancakes. Observers noticed that “in this day of anti-obesity crusades, the secretary of Health and Human Services used her own discretionary grant money to subsidize a restaurant that serves two of Men's Health magazine‘s 20 most unhealthy restaurant dishes.”

HT to Rick Moran at American Thinker yesterday for introducing Sen. Coburn’s 2011 Wastebook, adding the following comments about the 2011 Wastebook:

“Don't let the small amounts fool you. There are many thousands of such line item expenditues in the budget that need to be examined by asking the question; "Is this really something the national government should be spending tax dollars on?"

“Some might pass that test. Many more would not. The problem is that there are so many, it is almost beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend. The thousands and thousands of pages that make up the national budget cannot be seen in its totality so that the impact of the waste is diminished by the sheer, overwhelming amount of information one has to absorb to make rational choices.

“The budget is out of control because there are thousands of these kinds of questionable expenditures that nobody wants to bother taking out because the process is so cumbersome.

“This is where a line item veto for the president would come in handy -- something the Supreme Court has struck down time and again. It is time to revisit the issue and try to devise a line item veto that would not only do the job, but pass muster with the courts."

CBS reported on Sen. Coburn’s waste report, including the following quip: “To be sure, getting rid of these projects would barely put a dent in the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. But it might give taxpayers a bit more faith that our money wasn't being thrown away.”

Even the Huffington Post weighed-in today on the IHOP pancake house being government waste, but identified it as just one of many examples in Sen. Coburn’s waste report. Fox New channel 5 in Washington, D.C. also commented on the report yesterday.

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