Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) just introduced the Removing Excessive Dollars to Uproot and Cut Expensive Government Waste Act – or the easier to say title: REDUCE Government Waste Act. The bill would end a peanut stockpile program, insect farming, and a beer delivery robot project. Each project has been highlighted as government waste in previous Flake waste reports. Sen. Cortez Masto is teaming up with Flake to make eliminating these ludicrous expenditures a bipartisan effort.
“With the national debt standing at more than $21 trillion dollars, we must begin to eliminate wasteful spending happening in the federal government,” said Cortez Masto. “The REDUCE Government Waste Act is a good starting point to help us eliminate unnecessary government spending. This legislation will save tens of millions of dollars that could go towards paying down our national debt, supporting our veterans, or funding important medical research.”
The ‘beerbots’, paid for by the federal government, are programmed to serve beers to “thirsty graduate students. According to Senator Flake, “The cooperative beer delivery robots project was funded from grants totaling more than $2 million provided by the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation and conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL).” The project aimed to control a group of robots to solve a problem, which was delivering beer as quick as possible.
As if taxpayers do not support enough farmers with billions in generous crop subsidies, Uncle Sam is expanding his reach to insect farms! According to Senator Flake, “The National Institute of Foods and Agriculture (NIFA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is spending more than $1.3 million to support cricket farming and the development of bug-based foods. The projects are studying what bugs taste best, which ones are the most nutritious, and what are the best methods for farming bigger, tastier crickets.” One of the companies receiving funding, Bugeater Labs, grinds the bugs into a powder and then is made into different kinds of pasta dough like pasta, ramen, and macaroni noodles. I thought the government was in the business of keeping bugs out of food…
Finally, and perhaps most ridiculously, the federal government is spending more than $30 million a year to store piles of peanuts. According to Senator Flake, “The surplus is the result of a nutty federal loan program that incentivizes farmers to literally pay peanuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in exchange for federal aid.” Essentially, farmers are repaying USDA marketing loans with peanuts. The farmer keeps the money, and the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) takes ownership of the crop.
Taxpayers are in a tricky spot, because should the CCC sell the peanuts, it would depress the market price for them, allowing more farmers to participate in the program. The USDA tried to unload their surplus (500 metric tons) to Haiti, but Haitian farmers and even the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said the peanuts would do more harm than good – undercutting Haitian peanut farmers. The bill would eliminate this practice, and give taxpayers a break from this nutty waste!
Senator Flake will retire at the end of this year, and has been a champion of eliminating government waste since he first came into office. With Senator Flake’s retirement, the American people have lost two legendary watchdogs this year in the recently deceased John McCain and now retiring Jeff Flake. The next Congress has big shoes to fill, but it’s a promising sign for taxpayers that Senator Cortez Masto is joining the fight against government waste.