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Research on 'Zombie' Games and Romance Novels Makes Annual 'Wastebook'

Sen. Coburn’s latest list also calls NASA and State Department projects frivolous.

One hundred federal projects were given the annual booby prize for waste on Tuesday in the annual roundup of “egregious spending” compiled by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

The senator’s “Wastebook 2013” shines a light on “wasteful and low-priority spending” totaling almost $30 billion, he said in a release.

“While politicians in Washington spent much of 2013 complaining about sequestration’s impact on domestic programs and our national defense, we still managed to provide benefits to the Fort Hood shooter, study romance novels, help the State Department buy Facebook fans and even help NASA study Congress,” Coburn said. “Had Congress, in particular, been focused on doing its job of setting priorities and cutting the kind of wasteful spending outlined in this report, we could have avoided both a government shutdown and a flawed budget deal that was designed to avert a shutdown.

Examples of the projects deemed frivolous include:

  • The National Endowment for the Humanities’ $914,000 in grants since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs and Internet fan fiction;”
  • The Defense Department’s “Mass Destruction of Weapons,” in which the military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of useable vehicles and other military equipment overseas, worth $7 billion;
  • The Army’s justice code, which has allowed Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan to continue collecting military benefits of $278,000 and rising, pending a verdict in his trial;
  • Health and Human Services Department spending of at least $379 million to promote the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which Coburn called “an insurance plan few want and a Website that doesn’t work;”
  • The National Institutes of Health’s $325,525 study to “find out wives should calm down” when they’re angry at their husbands;
  • NASA’s $3 million study on “how Congress works;”
  • The National Science Foundation’s $150,000 grant to a North Carolina company to “develop a math learning game based on the zombie apocalypse.”