Human Events Blog

Big Government Waste: The Musical

 

As we all know, patronage of the arts is an important function of Big Government.  The Obama Administration did its part by staging an elaborate musical celebration of outrageous wasteful spending in Las Vegas, at a cost of over one million dollars. 

The performers are members of the General Services Administration, which is part of the federal government’s green-eyeshade accounting brigade, and at least nominally concerned with efficiently spending the taxpayer’s money.  According to its web page, its “policies covering travel, property, and management practices promote efficient government operations.”

You wouldn’t know that to watch the guys and gals from the GSA whoop it up in Vegas.  They blew six figures’ worth of taxpayer cash just planning this production, including a number of planning meetings in Vegas.  They blew over $146,000 on food, which according to the Wall Street Journal included $20 servings of cheese and $7.00 sushi rolls.  Officials retired to private rooms for parties catered by the taxpayers – meaning you paid for it, although given the rest of their behavior, you should count yourself lucky that you weren’t summoned to carry the trays of gourmet food and wine bottles into their suites.

In order to congratulate themselves for shooting through a trillion taxpayer dollars in the utterly ineffective Obama “stimulus” program, the cast of this musical extravaganza spent six thousand dollars on commemorative coins, which were presented in velvet boxes.  Did those coins have the dopey Obama “Recovery Act” symbol upon their gleaming surfaces?  You bet your deflated wallet they did!  Here’s an image, courtesy of the House Oversight Committee:

And because costuming is important, the GSA spent $1,840 on specially designed vests for selected employees, along with $400 in tuxedo rentals for other employees, and $3700 for commemorative T-shirts.

But I think you’ll agree these production costs were all worthwhile, once you see how these folks can sing!

Here they’re serenading President Obama about how the agency is “going green,” and spending plenty of taxpayer green to do it… in order to give the President the kind of press event he needs.

Here’s a terrific rendition of “Luck Be A Lady,” performed by government bureaucrats wearing what I presume are those super-special $1800 vests:

Here’s a show-stopping performance where a GSA employee dreams of what life will be like once he’s the Commissioner, a dream which has probably fallen forever outside his grasp.  “Donate my vacation, love to the nation, I’ll never be under OIG investigation!”  Because the notion of investigating the people who have been wasting countless billions of our dollars is inherently funny.

If you’re wondering why all these hideously over-funded bureaucrats are singing, it’s because the GSA held a talent contest.  The guy singing about living the phat life as commissioner won first prize.  I’m not sure what he won, but the GSA employee award program was handing out “iPods, digital cameras, GPS devices, and other electronics” over the past few years, according to the Las Vegas Sun.  115 iPods stockpiled for the rewards program, “valued at more than $20,000, were unaccounted for and may have been stolen.”

Here’s the kicker: this all happened in 2010, and the Obama Administration has known about it for years.  After the story broke big, the White House began boasting of its “bold, swift, and forceful action to hold those responsible accountable, and put in place protections to make sure this never happened again,” but the Inspector General’s Office says the Administration knew about this debacle since May 2010.  We’re only seeing these outrageous videos now because the House Oversight Committee has been releasing them.

Of course the Obama team swiftly blamed all this on George W. Bush, noting that the cost of the GSA’s Western Regional Conference began spiraling out of control back in 2006, while the 28 percent increase in the cost of this outrage under Obama is comparatively modest.  Then again, Bush wasn’t a shrieking Big Government hysteric who lectured us that modest budget cuts would wipe out America’s ability to have accurate weather reports and put cops on the street, as President Obama has characterized the Republicans’ budget proposals. 

Besides, I thought Barack Obama was supposed to be all about Hope and Change.  It’s funny how much of his presidency has boiled down to flop-sweat confessions that he’s powerless to escape the long shadow of his predecessor.  If you take Obama Administration spin seriously, re-electing him would bring us the fourth term of George Bush.

House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) made this point in a statement:

“After President Obama lectured the private sector about not wasting funds on Las Vegas conventions, it’s hypocritical that such a large agency with critical management responsibilities across government would hold this luxurious conference at the height of the recession and even spend thousands on custom made coins touting the stimulus.”

“Employees congratulating themselves and promoting one of the most politically controversial initiatives of this Administration with taxpayer funds is indicative of the waste that exists in a bloated federal government. I appreciate the work of GSA Inspector General Brian Miller in investigating this matter.  I expect that the committee will have additional questions for him and GSA about this wasteful spending.”

Big Government is a strange beast: it wears its vital organs on the outside, to protect its layers of flab.  Talk about even the most modest budget cuts, and you’re a heartless extremist who wants to fire first responders, and clog the gutters of our lawless cities with the bodies of the poor.  The first penny of fiscal restraint is always portrayed as coming from the most vital and sensitive services, not the catering budget for lavish parties, where bureaucrats sing odes to the pleasures of wasting tax money.

 

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