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Coburn blasts government spending on rabbit massages

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called out government spending on everything from watching grass grow to massaging rabbits in his annual “Wastebook” released Wednesday.

Coburn, a leading fiscal conservative, is retiring at the end of this session and made clear his frustration with Congress.

“Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects,” Coburn said. 

The list includes $387,000 for rub-downs for rabbits using a “mechanical device that simulates the long, flowing strokes used in Swedish massages.”

The National Institutes of Health study was aimed at methods for human recovery from injury.

Another $10,000 is being spent by the Fish and Wildlife Service in what the report describes as “literally paying people to watch grass grow.” The study is to determine best practices for growing cordgrass.

Coburn had serious points to make about how government agencies, particularly the NIH, is spending its money, connecting the “Wastebook” to the fight against Ebola. 

“The director of the National Institutes for Health claims a vaccine for Ebola “probably” would have been developed by now if not for the stagnant funding for the agency, which has a $30 billion annual budget,” Coburn writes. “Yet NIH did come up with the money to pay to give Swedish massages for rabbits.” 

In another example, Coburn writes “The President asked Congress to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deal with the thousands of unaccompanied children illegally crossing the border this year.”

But he points out: “ICE was paying $1 million in workers’ compensation to employees who were not working, even though they had been cleared to return to duty.”

The Congressional Budget Office said earlier this month that the deficit had fallen to $486 billion, the lowest since 2008, and under the benchmark of 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product. But Coburn said the debt total is nothing to celebrate.

“Despite all of this obvious waste, Washington politicians celebrated ending the fiscal year with a deficit under half-a-trillion dollars for the first time since 2008, as if adding $486 billion to a national debt quickly approaching $18 trillion is an actual accomplishment deserving praise,” Coburn wrote.

Tags Tom Coburn

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