Against the backdrop of a record-breaking $22 trillion in national debt, the revelation that the federal government spent $4.6 million on lobster tail and crab is only one line item in a report that may disturb cash-strapped taxpayers.
OpenTheBooks.com, a government watchdog nonprofit working to put all government spending online, has published “The Federal Government’s Use-It-or-Lose-It Spending Spree,” showing that through fiscal year 2018, federal agencies spent $544.1 billion on contracts, 10 percent of it in the final week ending Sept. 30.
According to the report released Thursday, federal spending was at its highest in September, the last month of the fiscal year, where the government spent $3.2 billion per day on contracts. On Sept. 27 and 28, the government spent $10 billion each day.
In addition to the $4.6 million forked over for lobster tail and crab, the spending spree consisted of contracts to lay out $9,241 on a Wexford leather club chair; $53,004 on china tableware; $308,994 on alcohol; $673,471 on golf carts; $1.7 million on musical equipment; $7.7 million on iPhones and iPads; and $9.8 million on workout and recreation equipment.
“The spike in use-it-or-lose-it spending at the end of 2018 reiterates the fact that the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was another irresponsible budget deal,” Justin Bogie, senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal.
According to a Heritage Foundation report, that spending bill shattered the limits put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, approved additional disaster relief for areas hit by hurricanes and wildfires, and extended many special-interest tax provisions.
The federal government’s spending spike of $97 billion on 509,828 contracts in the final month of the fiscal year, Bogie said, is because of the time restraints legislators put on agencies to spend.
“Appropriations were not finalized until nearly six months into the fiscal year, allowing agencies little time to spend a whopping $143 billion in additional funding, and leaving billions of dollars to be wasted away on unnecessary purchases,” Bogie said.
In addition to incentivizing reckless spending, the Bipartisan Budget Act also is estimated to “increase the federal deficit by $342 billion over 10 years, not including increased interest payments on the national debt,” according to The Heritage Foundation report.
“Congress should work to end the use-it-or-lose-it budgeting approach and return unused funding to the Treasury to pay down the $22 trillion national debt,” Bogie said. “Taxpayers can’t afford any more wasteful spending.”