Rand Paul exposes 7 insane ways the federal government wasted your money

He identified more than $482 billion in waste.

Every Christmas season, Sen. Rand Paul releases his Festivus Report, listing his many grievances with how the federal government wastes our money. The latest report is out, and it’s a doozy, highlighting example after example of our money being wasted.

Here are the 7 most egregious ways the federal government wasted your money.

1. $4.5 billion in improper small business loans

As part of the government’s massive, multi-trillion-dollar “stimulus” efforts, the Small Business Administration gave out 44,920 loans that were likely ineligible and/or fraudulent—to the tune of $4.5 billion wasted. That’s nearly 40% of the total loans given out. Just phenomenal stuff.

2. $140 million on a luxury spa in Florida

As part of its COVID-19 spent, the federal government gave out bailout money for state and local governments like candy on Halloween. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that some of it went to truly absurd purposes like Broward County, Florida spending $140 million of federal “COVID relief” money to build “800-room luxury hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean that includes 30,000 square feet of pool decks, a rooftop bar, and even a 11,000-square-foot spa and fitness center.”

3. $31.5 million to help criminals buy luxury cars

The federal government’s COVID-19 benefit programs were put together so hastily and with so few guardrails that they became a scammer’s dream. Sen. Paul highlights one glaring example of the runaway fraud: criminals used $31.5 million in federal COVID relief money, much of which hasn’t been recovered, to buy luxury cars including Corvettes, Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris.

4. $210 million to improve education in Jordan

American schools are failing many students, but our federal government spent hundreds of millions trying to improve education in a random Middle Eastern country. That’s right, according to this report, the feds spent $210 million to build schools, improve the Ministry of Education, and much more—in Jordan.

5. $3 million injecting hamsters with steroids

The federal government has given Northeastern University more than $3 million to inject hamsters with steroids and watch them fight, Senator Paul reports. That sounds almost as cruel as it is pointless.

6. $118 thousand to study Thanos’s finger-snapping

Marvel nerds will get a kick out of this one. The federal government actually gave Georgia Tech more than $118,000 to study whether Thanos could’ve really snapped his fingers, as he famously did in the 2018 movie Avengers: Infinity War, while wearing metal gloves. They concluded that this fictional scene was not, in fact, possible, answering a burning question at the top of millions of Americans’ minds.

7. $1.7 billion to maintain empty buildings

The federal government is so incompetent that it can’t even easily sell-off unused properties. As a result, it has spent billions maintaining empty buildings, Sen. Paul reports, in a depressing but deeply symbolic farce.

The Total

All in all, Paul identified more than $482 billion in waste. That comes out to an astounding $3,300 per federal taxpayer. What would you have done with that extra money this year?

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


  1. The real issue isn’t what’s being spent, but (1) by whom, (2) what special interest it’s subsidizing, and (3) how much is being kicked back.

  2. Sometimes the outrageous sounding headline disguises the fact that a research project can have multiple usages/purposes. Consider “$118 thousand to study Thanos’s finger-snapping”. The reference to Thanos was apparently in a PR type statement about the results which actually studied finger snapping in general via both experiments and an elaborate model. We could question the utility of a study of finger snapping, but the authors suggest the results (pressure, friction, etc) might be useful to someone designing prosthesis (let’s say, what material would allow an artificial hand to manipulate a button without it slipping out of the fingers). A more direct study might be better, but the finger snapping study might at least tell the prosthesis people where to start. There might even be useful info on material vs friction that could be used in any number of ways. Even if the research isn’t all that useful, you’ve trained a number of new scientists (who will likely get fairly well paying jobs and pay taxes) and perhaps gotten younger folks interested in science (PR was apparently part of the NIH grant). $118K might actually be a bargain for all that ?? (One of the grants that apparently supported the above work promised, “The project will support science training at many levels, including K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral stages. Research and training activities will broaden the participation of students from under-represented minority backgrounds in the physics of living systems. The researcher will develop a field-based invertebrate biomechanics course to bring students from many backgrounds into the rainforest to study the biophysics of ultrafast living systems. Research findings of this work will be disseminated through multiple outlets including live demonstrations at the Atlanta Zoo, bilingual comic books, and social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter.” Weighing what uses of money are worthwhile is a necessary exercise because there’s more projects than money; but sensationalizing the question by taking the project out of context, isn’t useful. (I know it was Rand Paul not you who originally did this.)


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