Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced his annual report, “2011 Wastebook,” noting, “This report details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative, or just plain stupid projects spread throughout the federal government and paid for with your tax dollars this year.” He added, “Over the past 12 months, Washington politicians argued, debated and lamented about how to reign [sic] 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 need, like the $6.9 billion worth of examples provided in this report.”
Of the 100 projects covered, three are especially egregious, and reflect the “spend spend spend” mentality prevalent in the halls of Congress. “The Super Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska is one of two projected bridges which became notorious during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The Knik Arm Bridge is designed to connect residents in the southern part of the Matanuska/Susitna Valley, or “MatSu,” with Anchorage, which would save them an hour’s driving time each way. The bridge would be 2.7 miles long and cost between $650 and $700 million (some estimates are much higher). The only problem is that there are very few residents living in MatSu, hence the bridge is named in Coburn’s report. Corburn complained, “At least $15.3 million was spent on the project this year alone. In total, more than $65 million in federal taxpayer money has been directed to various aspects of the project, including $57,390 for a 14-minute video, ‘The Knik Arm Crossing: Bridge to Our Future.’ ”
And $1 million of that money was spent just for staff salaries to promote the project.