Last Updated:July 16 @ 12:13 pm

Trillions in Debt... Let's do some Wine Tasting

By Bobby Eberle

Washington just doesn't get it. Year after year after year, budgets keep going up, the debt keeps increasing, and Washington politicians don't do anything about it. Barack Obama has added $6 trillion to the national debt, and now amid the panic of the "sequester," we are finding out just how wasteful Washington is.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is on a mission. It's a mission to point out the stupid waste in Washington that continues to consume billions of tax dollars. His most recent example is contained in a letter he wrote to Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack. In it, Coburn points out that while the Obama administration is saying that it may need to furlough USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) employees for two weeks, plans continue for boondoggle trips to California's wine country for "tasting receptions" and other extravagant events.

Because food safety is vital to our nation's economy and our citizens' health, I would encourage you to first cancel or eliminate unnecessary spending on travel and conferences.

For example, two USDA agencies -- Rural Development and Agricultural Marketing Service -- are sponsoring the 26th annual California Small Farm Conference next week. In addition to speakers from USDA agencies, the gathering will feature field trips and tasting receptions. "The Tasting Reception is the most well attended networking event of the conference and showcases the regional bounty from local farms, chefs, wineries, breweries, bakeries and other food purveyors" and "special guest chefs will turn donated local agriculture products into tasty dishes to sample with exceptional local wines, brews and spirits."

Wine tasting is also part of the itinerary at another USDA sponsored gathering -- the Priester National Extension Health Conference -- scheduled for next month in Oregon.

While these conferences may be fun, interesting and even educational get aways for department employees, food inspecting rather than food tasting should be USDA's priority at this time.

As Fox News reports, the USDA has fired back at Coburn and claims that it has "cracked down" on conference spending.

"USDA has been aggressively managing travel and conference costs for the last several years to achieve savings," a USDA spokesperson said. "As a result of this, and other efficiency initiatives, the Department has achieved over $700 million in efficiencies, savings, and cost avoidances during the last three fiscal years."

So... do you think they are cutting back? As the news story points out, "A House report last week claimed the federal government spent at least $340 million on conferences in 2012." You read that correctly. Our tax dollars pay for $340 million in events so that federal employees can hang out, schmooze, eat, drink, and be merry. Oh, and they might hear from a speaker or two.

This example is obviously just the tip of the iceberg, but the point is that the iceberg of wasteful spending is HUGE, and it is heading right for the Titanic known as the United States of America.

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17 Comments

  1. cgretiredComment by cgretired
    March 6, 2013 @ 4:10 am

    Speaking of waste, the DOT just got through February, Black History Month, with celebrations, dancing, quiz shows, food sampling, and all sorts of fun and games. All this, of course, as the country AND federal workers were facing sequestration. And, of course, the DOT claims that the month-long event was highly successful.

    I wonder how many of these folks could soon be without a few weeks pay while on furlough? I wonder if it was worth it?

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    • horseplayComment by horseplay
      March 6, 2013 @ 5:16 am

      So many of us agree with all that you have said, but Washington turns a deaf ear to all of us and we elected them to represent us there and they are not doing that. Money could be saved if they would cut out all the perks they receive, ie: health care, retirement, raises, parties and whatever else they can think of to waste the tax dollars. Why should we be footing the bill for all of their wasteful spending? If we don’t have the money in our budget, we cut out any pleasure spending and vacations. We haven’t had a vacation for several years now and going out to dinner would be a real treat if we could afford it. Most people are barely affording to live in a home or apartment and buy food. Most of us in the retirement age group can’t even afford to retire because of all that has happened in the past few years. A lot of people have lost all of their retirement they had saved. Now they want to cut even more from that for all of us. We need to STOP Washington now before it gets even worse. The people who re-elected Obama will be paying for it soon and wondering why they were so stupid or maybe they won’t even know. Small businesses and even larger ones are closing up everyday now that have been giving support and tax dollars. Who do they think is going to pay taxes if they keep things going in the toilet like they are right now. It seems they want us to be a third world country and there will be haves and have nots. Personally, I have worked too hard all my life to just give up and lay down and let them run all over me and take everything away. Tell them to get back to doing what they are supposed to be doing and not wasting time right now with small things. Work on the economy and getting jobs going again. If there is construction and building going on again, it will help to get other businesses going and trickle down the line and things will get better. Tell the government to quit messing with things that don’t concern them. Gun legislation is one of those things. No matter what you do, the criminals will get guns and shoot people. It is those people we need to do something about. Let’s put the government back on the farm to do a good hard days work and see if they can stand up to that, cause they sure as heck can stand up to a days work in Washington anymore. LAZY is what we call that.

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    • rzraickComment by rzraick
      March 6, 2013 @ 6:01 am

      i am sorry to keep saying this, but stop looking to the government and asking them for jobs. It is not what the government can do. As long as we keep asking the government to do more for us, they will keep doing more and more growing of their own power by wasting more money, and this makes matteres worse.

      We do not need more government. We need far less government. If the government world stop spending and stop taxing and stop trying to “simulate” the economy by pumping more fiat money and debt into the economy, more jobs would be created. Now their policies are destroying the country. Stop asking them to do more.

      As long as we have the mindset that it is the job of government to do every damned thing under the sun, this will never get fixed.

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    • rosechComment by rosech
      March 6, 2013 @ 9:35 am

      Sad to say we have let them forget they are OUR employees and we should be voting on whether to allow their fun parties and trips. Definitely our representatives in both House and Senate are doing the same, so why would they cancel anything? Our bad and we need to stand up and tell our Congress and fed employees the fun days and conferences are no more and the fed union is being banned and taken away. They think they are our employers and we must disabuse them of this idea!

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      March 6, 2013 @ 11:35 am

      Ecclesiastes 10:16
      “Woe to the land whose king was a servant
      and whose princes feast in the morning.
      Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth
      and whose princes eat at a proper time—
      for strength and not for drunkenness.
      Through laziness, the rafters sag;
      because of idle hands, the house leaks.
      A feast is made for laughter,
      wine makes life merry,
      and money is the answer for everything.”

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  2. jimslagComment by jimslag
    March 6, 2013 @ 4:59 am

    Just another case of waste, fraud and abuse by the federal government. I saw plenty while I was in the military back in the 80′s and 90′s. But even though they say they have cut back, they feel entitled to keep what they have. So even though we consider it wasteful, they feel, well, we cut back to the “bare” minimum and to cut even more would be detrimental to the well being of the department. After all, what would their incentive be to do their job? Maybe the fact that you do have a job and get a paycheck, unlike around 17 million or so of your fellow Americans. That is my incentive to keep working, no perks, no pension, just a paycheck and a 401K dependent on Bernanke and the market to keep my balances from pancaking down to nothing.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      March 6, 2013 @ 11:28 am

      Isaiah 33:1
      Woe to you, destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! Woe to you, betrayer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.

      Enter the Democrats!

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      Rating: 4.1/5 (24 votes cast)
  3. JDZComment by JDZ
    March 6, 2013 @ 5:31 am

    “Washington just doesn’t get it” is an understatement as the government culture has basically lost touch with reality and these offsite conferences are a simple example of the attitude of the career government management who have learned how to survive regardless of which political party is in the Whitehouse or Congress. The millions of federal workers live in a bubble that has been created starting with the massive growth in government started by FDR after WWII and protected by the budgeting process that gives the most expensive government programs automatic increases each year whether needed or not which is an utterly stupid and irresponsible policy. This attitude creates an apathetic and detached culture in government where those working in government are never pressured to work harder and find ways to make government more efficient…in fact, it is just to the contrary.

    This attitude is prevalent in both the elected officials and the career government employees and is encouraged by the public service unions who have mad it harder to downsize and streamline government even if it was sincerely tried by a government agency.

    We are in trouble as government has grown in leaps and bounds under the Obama administration and has become a huge bloated and overly complex behemoth that is basically eating its own as it cannot feed itself anymore but “just doesn’t get it” as this article contends.

    There re only a few in Congress who are continually demonized for even suggesting a major cut in the size and cost of government must be done. The sequestration is the perfect example as it is a feeble attempt to cut the amount of GROWTH planned in the government expenditures and is NOT A CUT IN ANYTHING but the Obama spendthrifts are crying like it is a disaster.

    I actully think we should shut down the federal government for 6 months except for critical services like our national defense, SS, Medicare, etc. and send Congress home and let the states run the country and see what happens. We should stop writing legislation and just enforce the laws on the books for awhile. The IRS and treasury department needs a minimal staff to collect revenue and pay the bills of just those working and see what happens.

    My educated guess is that we could cut the federal government by thirty percent and reorganize through consolidation and streamlining and actually be more efficient. No one in government has the political guts to actually attempt something like this which is way overdue.

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    • rzraickComment by rzraick
      March 6, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

      Perhap we can cut this government by 100% And then form a new and honest limited government.

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  4. thedoveComment by thedove
    March 6, 2013 @ 5:41 am

    Let us not lose sight of the fact that in Liberalspeak, “cutting back” means “not increasing spending as much as we’d like to.”

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  5. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    March 6, 2013 @ 6:47 am

    How times have changed.

    I retired from the Federal Civil Service 15 years ago. The last 20 years of my career were on an international program, with many foreign trips. Foreign governments, when they hosted meetings, would always fund at least one dinner, and often two.

    We, as US Civil Servants, were not provided funds to reciprocate. Rather an embarrassment. I, personally, hosted dinners at my home. My fellow civil servants did contribute to the cost. And no, those costs were not an allowable expense on my tax return.

    No regrets, those dinners at my home cemented good working relationships with my foreign colleagues. In fact, some of them imitated my actions in their home country.

    Never, in my 40 years, did I ever eperience the government sponsored largesse that seems to be the new norm.

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  6. prairelivingComment by praireliving
    March 6, 2013 @ 7:22 am

    Sacred cows make the best burgers. We need a huge grill out in Washington, DC!

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    • bf39Comment by bf39
      March 6, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

      Good Idea. I’ll bring my dogs, I don’t want to eat any of it!

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  7. dickgComment by dickg
    March 6, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    I guess, then, to sum it all up.
    .
    . . .”WHAT? NO BREAD? LET THEM EAT CAKE!”

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      March 6, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

      Deuteronomy 32:33
      “Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.”

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  8. bless2liveComment by bless2live
    March 6, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    A Fraud with a Fraud goverment equals a Fraud America!

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  9. Pingback: The problem with Obama’s problem with special treatment for rich fat cats | Liberty Unyielding

  10. middlegroundComment by middleground
    March 6, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    The excesses of this administration rival those of France during the reign of Louis XIV, yet the president’s supporters continue to turn a blind eye and encourage waste, corruption and fraud.

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