In April, the federal debt surged to a record $21 trillion or at least $65,000 for every person in the U.S. And in March, Congress approved a record $1.3 trillion budget. When Americans ask where their tax dollars are going, here below are some examples of expenditures that are associated with Republicans, according to OpenTheBooks -- an organization that has produced a report and interactive map that tracks federal government spending.

Historic Hobo Day. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD)

South Dakota State University got $11,987 from the National Endowment of the Arts for the preservation of Historic Hobo Day in Brookings, South Dakota. On Hobo Day, students dress as "hobos" for their homecoming celebration, and also ride floats and drive the "Bum-mobile" in a parade through campus and downtown. The federal government thus supported digitizing Hobo Day artifacts.

Video game for your future-self. Rep. Robert Wittman (R-Va.)

This was a grant of $651,498 by the Department of Health and Human Services to Research and Evaluations Solutions, Inc. and was described by the federal government as "A Virtual Learning World for Tweens to Experience Possible Selves (ME GAMES)." The goal, through using games such as "My World of Dreams," "The Valley of Others," and "The Sea of Hope," is to "make the future feel close" and allow teenagers to explore their future selves.

Listening to National Parks. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.)

Michigan Technological University received $20,000 from the NEA to record ambient sounds at parks as an inspiration to composers of orchestral music. Researchers made recordings in Michigan's upper peninsula, Isle Royale National Park, and the Apostle Island National Lakeshore Park.

 

The Effects of Discrimination on High Blood Pressure in African Americans. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) 

A study by the University of Colorado, "The Effects of Discrimination on High Blood Pressure in African Americans," received $762,614 to determine whether perceived discrimination is associated with hypertension among African-Americans.

Virtual shoe fitting. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.)

A grant of $753,502 by the National Science Foundation went to Eclo, Inc., to produce smartphone technology to allow "virtual fitting" for shoes. Users record of video of their foot, which the service turns into a 3D model that will match the user with shoes in the database. It is free for users and provides a pleasant online shoe-shopping experience, according to OpenTheBooks.org

Hypnotizing Post-menopausal women. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tx.)  

Baylor University received $215,315 to research methods of hypnosis to aid the sleep of postmenopausal women. The university studen sought to find out the appropriate use of hypnosis and advocate it for improving sleep among participants.

Funding a notorious childcare facility. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tx.)

According to Open the Books, the Shiloh Treatment Center operates in Manvel, Texas, and has a history of allegations of abuse and negligence. The Houston Chronicle reported that it has been subject to local, state, and federal investigation. Children and investigators have alleged physical and verbal abuse, neglect, and death. However, the facility received $5,052,054.
 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke from the well of the Senate on Thursday and denounced what he said is waste of taxpayer dollars on the part of the federal goverment. Illustrating his concerns with posters displayed on the Senate Floor, accompanied by tweets on social media, he denounced the $90 million spent by the federal government to build a hotel in Afghanistan that will never be completed, unused equipment that has been shredded by the government, and scientific studies that include the feeding of cocaine to Japanese quail to determine the effects of the drug to avian libido. The senator has introduced what he calls his “Penny Plan Budget”, which would cut a penny from every dollar spent by the federal government to theoretically balance the budget by 2023. 


 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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