This Year's Most Outrageous Examples of Wasteful Government Spending

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With bloated federal budgets pushing the United States deeper and deeper into debt, you'd think Congress finally would be putting a stop to wasteful government spending.

Not a chance.

Despite all the handwringing over the rapidly approaching "fiscal cliff" and a debt exceeding $16 trillion, lawmakers have voted to squander tax money on everything from what astronauts might eat on Mars to mind-numbing musicals about global warming.

Last week Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, released his annual "Wastebook," which spotlights 100 examples of absurdly wasteful government spending from the previous year.

The items on this year's list add up to $18 billion in government waste. While even Coburn admits that's just a tiny fraction of the $3.7 trillion federal budget, it illustrates how carelessly Washington dispenses with taxpayers' hard-earned money.

"Each of the 100 entries highlighted by this report is a direct result of politicians who are preoccupied with running for re-election rather than running the country, which is what they were elected to do in the first place," Coburn said in the report.

Wasteful Government Spending: 13 Mind-Blowing Expenses

Instead of just bickering about wasteful government spending, Congress should get the ball rolling by going after all the low-hanging fruit in the federal budget.

Here are 13 of the most wasteful government spending examples in 2012, and they all but beg for the budget ax:

  1. Little Green Menus: NASA spends $1 million a year on developing recipes for foods which astronauts could prepare while visiting Mars, even though the agency has no plans to go there any time soon. But just in case NASA changes its mind someday, it wants to ensure that astronauts on Mars don't experience "menu fatigue."
  1. Why Fruit Flies Fall in Love: The National Institutes of Health spent $939,771 on research that has discovered male fruit flies are more sexually attracted to younger female fruit flies. "Video of the encounter," the scientists wrote, "showed that the male was much more attracted to the young fly."

If you thought those were bad, they get even worse...

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