tv QA CSPAN February 28, 2016 11:00pm-11:59pm EST
with citizens against government waste tell -- president thomas scatz. britishfollowed by prime minister david cameron taking questions. later, republican presidential candidate donald trump campaigns in alabama ahead of the states primary tuesday. ♪ >> this week on "q&a", thomas schatz, president of citizens against government waste. he talks about his organization's efforts to bring attention to government waste over the years. brian: thomas schatz citizens against government waste. you are president of it and you have been around the organization for 30 years. what does it do? thomas: it was created following the release of the grace commission report. peter grace and jack anderson, syndicated columnist, took president reagan's advice which was to not let the report gather
dust on the shelf and they put together citizens against government waste and the lobbying arm of that called the council for citizens against government waste. the job of the organization is to uncover, expose, publicize, and a limited government waste and fraud and mismanagement. brian: what is the pig book? thomas: it started in the early 1990's. following the release of a list of unauthorized programs which was done under president reagan in 1988, we got the idea of taking that list and figuring out how those expenditures were getting into the bills if they were not supposed to be there. we worked with a bipartisan coalition of members of congress which was then called the congressional pork busters coalition and they came up with us, a definition.
it was called porkbarrel spending. and then called earmarks. then we started the pig book. the first was $3 billion and it went up to $29 billion in 2006. every year and that we can find earmarks in the appropriations will, we release a congressional pig look in april or may. brian: we have some video of past news conferences. [video clip] thomas: senator ted stevens funneled monies to his home state of alaska. $70 million for construction at two national guard bases and an air force base. senator charles grassley has the biggest project. the soaking the taxpayer's award goes to senator grassley for this money.
that is the down payment on a $225 million project that we are all going to pay for because iowa is contributing nothing so far. the longest running earmarks which this year received $5.9 million is the east west center in hawaii. it has received 10 earmarks since 2001. -- since 1997, i am sorry. the senate appropriations commission. brian: does that remind you of anything? thomas: it is still there. the indoor rain forest was always one of my favorites and it turned out that they chose not to spend the money. they never built it. north carolina, was supposed to get a half-million dollars for a teapot museum. that never happened because some of these required matching funds and the locals said -- wait a minute, we will have to spend some of our own money to do this. earmarks over the years have been some of the most ridiculous
projects that one could possibly imagine. all of it is true. we don't make it up. unlike the old days where we could figure out exactly which member of congress within the earmarked, things have changed. it is a lot more difficult. brian: the mention of the east-west center in hawaii, $5.9 million or whatever -- how does that kind of thing happen? and what does it do? thomas: there used to be a north-south center and that is now funded fully by the private sector. the east-west center should be funded the same way. it duplicates a lot of other programs. even president obama said it
should not be funded by the federal government and he likes to fund pretty much everything. the senator who was chairman or ranking member of the appropriations committee, senator stevens in alaska. they split a huge pot of money, per capita, alaska and hawaii and west virginia were the top three. they write the bills, they have the last chance to put in their particular projects and that is how it gets in. it is not an open process. it is behind the scenes. the east-west center is still there because the new senator keeps putting it in there. brian: you have done this for almost 30 years, why did you start with this center? thomas: we started out following the report of the grace commission, i joined the organization after working for six years for congressman
hamilton fish of new york. we started looking at how we could best get people to pay attention to wasteful spending. we tend to find things that are interesting, different or easy to understand because the government is so large an organization like citizens against government waste has to cut through the noise, members of congress talking about the wonderful things they are doing and try to get people to be more involved. and make it more personal so they understand the impact on them, their families, and their children and grandchildren. it was a big thing for peter grace to talk about, the impact of the national debt on our children and grandchildren, because they will be the ones if we do not get our fiscal house in order, who will suffer and have a lesser standard of living. the first time one generation would pass on to another a lower standard of living. brian: you went to school in new york. thomas: i went to suny binghamton.
one of the four state universities in new york. brian: you went to the george washington law school. why did you want to do law? thomas: i thought it would be a good thing to do and my brother went to georgetown. neither of us practiced law for very long. i had a lot of friends that worked on capitol hill and heard about the job opportunity for a legislative assistant. i then heard about the opportunity with congressman fish. after six euros on his personal staff, a friend of mine had worked on the house wednesday group. steve hoffman told me that he had heard about a position at citizens against government waste. i knew about the grace commission which was only about two years previously it had issued its report. brian: we will get down into the
weeds, maybe too much before this is over but before we get to that, i want to show you some video done by william -- from 1975-1988, every month he issued the golden fleece award. let us watch him. [video clip] >> this was a fleece we gave to an agency that spent $103,000 to try to find out if sunfish that drink tequila would be more aggressive than those that drink gin. >> how did this happen? >> because people are hired to spend this money and in order to spend a trillion dollars, you have to have thousands of people spending money as fast as they can. they come in and spend $50,000-$60,000 before coffee in the morning. and it goes on and on, day after day.
soon, money loses all significance. thomas: the senator was right. it is so big it is very difficult to get things under control. people may recall that when senator dole ran for president he wanted to get rid of three departments. those kinds of things are so difficult to do these days because money is spread out all over the place. the government accountability office every year issues a report on duplication and overlap. interestingly, that was something that then senator barack obama pushed for. he also pushed for more transparency in terms of how the money was spent. the report from gao describe the duplication. one report described that there were 209 stem programs throughout the federal government.
in 13 agencies. if someone could get rid of the department of education, there would be 12 other agencies including the department of defense that has a program for stem. one would think that in any other organization, you would have one place where education would be done. just a department or an agency. but everything is spread out all over so you you can eliminate entire departments, you don't eliminate all of the associated programs that permeate throughout the federal government. our thought is to take all of these gao recommendations and bring them to the house in the senate and get rid of duplication. find something that works well. brian: when the senator left in 1988, it was trillions of dollars in debt, a lot less than it is now. i want to show a website. anyone in the country can look this up. it is much larger than you see on your screen now.
all of these numbers are moving. according to the debt clock, we are $19 trillion in debt. you can even find out how many automobiles were sold in the last month by the different companies. what do you think of this? not of the clock so much but what do you think of this kind of money that is moving around? thomas: when are the things we look at is gross debt to gdp ratio. the debt is higher than the total output of the united states. not a good position to be in particularly when we depend on other countries given the global economy to help support that debt. they buy our treasury securities and so they are buying our debt. everything is intertwined. it is not good to be dependent on others for how the country is being indebted. brian: the first golden fleece award was in 1975? for the national science
foundation for squandering $84,000 to try to find out why people all in love. thomas: i'm sure something like that is still going on. the national science foundation has been on many lists. some of these studies may have merit but a lot of them are duplicative, a lot of them don't help everyone around the country. brian: second one, back in 1975, to the national science foundation for spending over $500,000 to determine under what conditions wrath, monkeys, and humans bites and clinch their jaws. thomas: given the rat population on capitol hill i don't want to know the results. brian: the study of the all volunteer army concept in foreign countries.
thomas: not a surprise. this is the way things work. washington tends to be reactive, not proactive. no one thinks ahead. they don't solve problems. that is part of the process also. u.s. to earlier how these things happen. it is not planned like any other organization. in another organization, you are setting goals first and looking for solutions to the problem. then you are determining how you can get there and then the budget. the budget is not first in most organizations. they have to figure out how they are going to get money to support what they are trying to do. one of the recommendations of the grace commission was to change the omb, the executive branch that does the budget and change it to the office of federal management so that management would be the title, not budget. it is not an exciting thing. most people don't think it all that interesting but it is extremely important to the
thought process in washington. if they did management first and then budgeting next they would be setting goals, looking for results. they wouldn't pay for something until they had proven that it works. the solution tends to be -- we spent $100 million, it did not work so now let us spend $100 billion. it is not just democrats, republicans as well. i mentioned the stem programs, one third of them came in to being after the republicans took over the house and senate. everyone likes to spend money on things they like. people tend to think the republicans want more defense, and the democrats want more nondefense. brian: here is more from you and news conferences. there is a person standing next to you in a pig suit. [video clip] thomas: demonstrating that
chairmanship has its opportunities. mark hatfield has directed more than $405 million to oregon since 1991. that includes a $2.6 million grant for a marine i is center named after mark hatfield. $1.7 billion to improve the shelf life of vegetables which was served up by senator murray of washington who bragged about bringing home $55 million in pork in a 2007 defense bill. there is also a million dollars that nancy pelosi got to fund the military intelligence historic center. senator cochran, the ranking member of the senate appropriations committee who received the vlad the impaler award.
his total exceeds $2 billion during that three year time period. brian: the point i want to ask about is how embarrassing is that for these members to stand next to you are blasting one of their colleagues? thomas: they don't have the long list of pork. senator mccain has been to these events longer than anyone else. he has been the leader on the elimination of earmarks and court barrel spending for 20 plus years. the senator got involved right away. he puts out his own reports. members that care about it have had an impact. a moratorium, there would not be won on earmarks without people like john mccain and others who stood up at these events.
brian: let me show the cover of the report that jeff put out. he did it in december 2015. it is called "waste book: the farce awakens." did he followed this on purpose? thomas: senator langford of oklahoma spoke with us a year ago about what he was planning as well. there is a book from senator langford. $100 billion in savings. senator mccain has looked at waste inside the pentagon. it is wonderful that the idea that senator coburn had is proliferating among senators and even congressman, for example steve russell is getting this information out to the public. the more that this is publicized, the easier it is to keep making the case that something needs to be done against wasteful spending. members of the transportation committee love to spend money.
they need to be reminded that there is still waste. brian: a u.s. air force contract with nascar totaling nearly $1.6 million including autograph sessions with a driver at an air force recruiting booth, meet and greets and other appearances by richard petty and richard petty drive along experience right along. thomas: this is an example of john mccain and jeff bringing up this kind of expenditure and the pentagon is now not spending this money. this is one where they really looked at it and said --why is the pentagon sponsoring events? it turned out they were paying to have the pentagon come to these events.
if the military wants to volunteer and spend some time at these events, fine but it should not be transactional. they should not be doing this. a good case of why -- i should say this is a good example of why these things need to continue to be done. brian: here is another one. hipster parties. will you be there to help a hipster in need? that is a question posed by help a hipster movement that has received nearly $5 million in taxpayer funds from the national institute of health in the last five years. the project organizes parties at bars and nightclubs featuring local artists as well as other activities aimed at enticing hipsters to take a stand against tobacco corporations. thomas: tobacco corporations including settlement. that is a ridiculous waste of
money. who will go to such an event to convince people not to smoke? a lot of those efforts have been a big waste of money. brian: one of the quotes that was in there was that hipsters are hard to define because that is part of their culture. they initiate trends, for the moment that seems to bring a focus on flannel, facial hair, skinny jeans and offkilter hats. to identify hipsters, they asked young people to describe them. if a look screen hipster over and over the researchers used that as a guide. thomas: it speaks for itself. it is absurd to spend that kind of money on something that they do not know what the impact will be. brian: here is a bit of senator jeff flake. >> nasa can no longer even launch astronauts into orbit.
yet, nasa is spending $1.2 million to study the impact of microgravity on cheap. nasa is also spending $280,000 to develop plans to build a cloud city on venus. the pentagon is spending to lee and dollars to teach robots how to play jazz and $2.5 million to create a robot lobby greeter. the national institute of health spent about $1 million on the monkey study. the purpose of the research is to determine if other studies can be conducted of monkeys on treadmills. i think everyone would have to agree that this is totally bananas. brian: how much you work with people like senator flake?
thomas: we are in constant touch with them. the monkey in the treadmill. they have also funded shrimp on a treadmill and mountain lion on a treadmill. the researcher had to shop around to find a treadmill big enough for the mountain line. it was determined how long and how fast they could run. brian: who decides on these projects? thomas: the federal government gives money to the national institute of health and others and they have peer-reviewed studies. having this kind of money means they are getting too much. the nih budget which has expanded in the last 10 years -- we want to to heal diseases like cancer and alzheimer's. but this takes away from more serious and needed efforts at these agencies. it puts them in a bad light when you do this kind of thing. brian: you mentioned the detriment that took senator coburn's face. senator james lankford from
oklahoma. he has a book out called "federal fumbles." >> is there one example in this report are particularly irks you? >> there are many. let me give you a couple of them. the earned income tax credit peace has the largest rate in the federal government. that one program has about a 25% fraud rate. $18 billion a year in fraud and loss in that one program alone year after year. a lot of people catch me at home and say they want to take care of the irs and what is happening with identity theft with the irs. $18 billion a year in fraud and loss in that one program alone year after year. a lot of people catch me at home they have methods they could put in place to protect the identity of individuals. if we do not deal with that, we will continue to have more and
more money into the billions of dollars go out the door and a lot of hassles for americans. brian: how hard is it for someone like senator langford to do the same thing his predecessor did? thomas: when senator coburn was putting this together, he had a committee staff that spent almost the entire year working on this. and with senator langford as well. we met with the staff that put this report together. we have been getting the information that is helping them and trying to push it out to the public so they are aware of it -- of it. it is important. you talk about stolen identity refund fraud. the irs could fix it or at least reduce it. someone gets a hold of your social security number and they file a false tax refund and they get your refund.
it is difficult to get the money back and prove it was not you that got the first one. they could figure this out. brian: here is a report called "federal fumbles." they are all available on the web. i want to go to one of the items in his report. the gao released a report in the fall, 2014, practices of five departments including the dod, veterans affairs, and gsa. gao found these departments spent a combined $3.1 million on workers placed on administrative leave from 2011-2013. much of it went to the salaries of 57,000 employees who were off work for one month or longer. money paid for by the taxpayers who work hard to earn their salaries. that is what senator langford said. why 57,000 people on administrative leave?
thomas: it is difficult to fire someone. many managers do not want to go through the process. there are multiple levels of of appeal by the employees and they feel it is easier to keep paying them. it is not the manager's money. and not the agency's money. there is no penalty for leaving these people on the side. in the private sector, this would never happen. two weeks notice, and you are out. it doesn't work the same way in washington as it does in the private sector. you may recall that jimmy carter came in and he wanted to reform the civil service system. no one talked to him much after that. this is something that is really difficult to fix.
it requires literally re-doing the civil service system, negotiating with the federal workers unions. it is messy and the process has gotten out of control as evidenced by this report from senator langford. i remember talking about this when the original report came out. a lot of people wanted to know why this was going on. it is systemic and congress needs to do something about this. they could pass a law saying you must resolve these cases within 30 days. brian: here is another item from senator langford's report. a $40 million fumble. it has to do with a man named trump. a hotel being renovated along pennsylvania avenue. it is the old post office building. here is what he says in the report -- when all is said and done, american taxpayers will chip in $40 million to help cover the cost to restore this kind of building to even well beyond its original grandeur. they are subsidizing this old building.
the credit allowed an investor to claim 20% of the cost. in 10% of the rehabilitation cost for rebuilding a building from prior to 1926. thomas: if it had not been donald trump, it would have been someone else. the question is is this an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars? this would all have disappeared if the tax code had been reformed. if that is done, all of these other tax breaks it should disappear. one of the reasons it exists is because the corporate rate is so high and it is difficult for some corporations to invest in these kinds of projects.
there is a big lobby that is going in to congress saying -- i would love to do this project but you better give me a tax break. if you had a lower corporate rate, and an investment tax credit, this would not exist. brian: jim rice and got a lot of publicity working with the new york times as a reporter. a complicated issue as to whether he would be charged in court for not giving up his sources. this is a clip from a q&a interview we had where james risen spoke with us in 2014. [video clip] >> the $11 billion of the $20 billion in iraqi money that the united states sent back to iraq was unaccounted for.
what stewart's investigators found was that $2 million in cash was stolen after it was flown from andrews air force base to baghdad by powerful iraqis. it was being hidden in a bunker in rural lebanon. they were hiding it for safekeeping for future use. brian: no one seems to know what happened to that $2 billion? thomas: not a surprise. especially the inspector general for iraq -- he has been doing a wonderful job. brian: he was former head of the iraq special investigation. .
thomas: right. they have looked at all of these things and unfortunately, it is not that big a surprise. the way that things work in iraq, you go to some local group and you hand the money because you want some favor. they should have kept track. whether the system was set up so that money was flown in in the form of cash is one thing that if cash was going to be handed out, someone needed to keep track to make sure that whoever was supposed to be paid only got that amount of money. keep track of the money. that is the bigger problem in washington as well. it is not their money. it is the taxpayers money. wasting it does not have a lot of consequences. very few people get fired. look at the v.a. look what happened with people sitting in those offices waiting
to be treated and in some cases dying. they set up false lists of wait times. three people were transferred. it goes back to why they are on administrative leave and sitting around and doing nothing. it's hard to hold people accountable inside federal agencies. brian: talk about the politics of this. the first gentleman we showed was a democrat, a liberal democrat from was constant. most of the other people we are seeing now are republicans. is there a difference between these parties and how much they are interested in this kind of -- this kind of waste? thomas: democrats who are former business owners -- we have tried to make the point to them that this is not the business. it should be run more effectively. we have even made an argument that if someone wants to help a certain group of people, they can help more of them if they eliminated waste.
let us say there is a $100 million program. 20% of it is going to waste. that means that $20 million is not going where it is supposed to be. the answer is not to make the budget $120 million -- the answer is to get rid of the waste. but it's easier to add that $20 million. because management is not that exciting or interesting. you don't get your name on a building. you go home and say -- i made the government more efficient. that is nice. you have to be able to explain how it benefits you. if you eliminate the $20 million in waste, 30,000 people get more help. that would really convince more people on both sides of the aisle that this is the way to get things done more effectively. brian: 72 inspectors general in the government. how effective are they?
thomas: it depends on where they are working. the one that i think is the least effective is the inspector general of the postal service. a gentleman named david williams, who i believe retired last week. he is supporting having the postal service get more involved in non-postal activities. competing with the private sector. getting involved in overnight delivery. becoming a banking operation. not just money orders but doing banking. we have enough banks. this is something that senator elizabeth warren and senator bernie sanders support. the postal service can get out of this ridiculous death that comes back every year, $5.7 billion loss last year.
eliminating overlap duplication, access post offices, that that is the solution. spend more money, get them to do more things. it does not work. brian: robert gates was here a couple of weeks ago. here was a question we asked him. explain this. [video clip] brian: has the department of defense ever been audited? >> we get audited in different ways by different people but when it comes to a formal, accounting practices, the answer is no. the department has been working for years to get itself into a position of where it knows where all of the money has gone and it has that documented and it can present that in formal accounting practices. do we know where the money goes? yes. do huge amounts of money disappear into the ether?
no. brian: what do you think? thomas: i think they need to have a clean audit and then we will see. i am not doubting him but we are not sure. it goes back to 1989, the recommendation of the grace commission that citizens against government waste promoted. they had not had chief financial officers and federal agencies until 1989. imagine running an organization without a cfo. in 1993, government performance and results act started the ball rolling or these audits. that was 23 years ago. 1993. the pentagon still does not have a clean audit. they are the only agency without one. you see things from the pentagon and you say -- we don't know where this particular ship is. they haven't lost it but they don't have it in their system.
so that somebody can look at it and say here it is, here's how much it cost and how many people are on it. it is literally that bad at the pentagon. i am happy that the pentagon exists. they do a wonderful job protecting national security. but they need to figure out where this money is going because it affects their budget. if they don't know where the money is, they tend to ask for things he don't need. brian: why wouldn't the congress want an audit of the pentagon? thomas: they have been saying it for years. they put it in the defense authorization act. give us a clean on it. but they don't say we are going to cut off your money if you don't. that would be a way to get somebody to pay attention to the issue. they have been pushing it, bipartisan effort, pushing it for years. every time a secretary of defense comes about the budget, they ask for a clean audit. and they say what secretary gets said -- we are working on it. -- what secretary gates said -- we are working on it. brian: a famous conservative economist that thinks all of
this is a waste of time. i want to show you milton friedman. [video clip] >> they complain about waste. i don't. tell me would you like the irs , to be spending its money efficiently? [laughter] obviously, in general we don't like waste but one of the effects of this is that government does not have as much control as you think it would. you and the other businessmen, you say you have a hundred million bureaucrats and 200 million people thinking about how to get around them. you can generally outsmart them. at least preserves an element of our freedom. brian: what do you think of that? thomas: i have heard this before. to us, waste can be subjective but it is the mismanagement part that people really need to pay attention to.
the more that is talked about -- no one likes mismanagement of their assets. that means that you're not getting what you think you should get out of it. people also need to think about the money they pay in taxes being like an investment. people watch the market, the stock goes down. they see that every day. but no one sees exactly what is going on here in washington. there is very little transparency. it is easy to make fun of it -- it is amorphous, it is too big. people know more about the state and local expenditures. my father was the president of the local school board. everyone knew in the town what was going on. it was explained in meetings. it was close to home literally. that is one of the problems with dealing with and trying to get spending in washington under control. to say that waste helps people i think is completely wrong. it needs money is not going
-- it means money is not going where it is supposed to go. everyone always tries to figure out ways to get around certain things. by the way, you may want the irs to be more effective. just collect the taxes due under the law and go away. but when they allow people to have their identities stolen, it means they are not doing even some basic work. brian: how big is your organization? thomas: 15 people. more than one million members and supporters. brian: how much money do you spend? thomas: $5 million a year. that is combined for the citizens against government waste and the council. no government money at all. don't want it. never would take it. brian: how much money do you spend on lobbying? thomas: about a half-million dollars. it's mostly education and research, not as much on lobbying.
500,002 a million dollars a year. brian: another member of the senate that you work with is john mccain. he has something called america's most wasted. let us watch a clip of his interview with cheryl atkinson. [video clip] >> the national guard is a hundred million dollars in debt but spends money on bubble balls. >> a harebrained idea someone had. one of the other aspects of the national guard is that professional sports teams charge the taxpayers for honoring the veterans, the men and women that serve. you would think that this is a great thing that the new york jets honor our veterans but they are being paid for. brian: in his america's most wanted -- in july 2012, the army
research and development engineering command awarded a $50,000 grant to researchers at the adventures with elephants in south africa. thomas: hopefully, you would find the bombs before the elephants would. another example of why the pentagon needs to be audited. they need to be audited. they need to be responsible for every expenditure. brian: the cannon house office building built in 1908 is due for a refurbishing. he says that is almost as much as they spend on the congressional visitors center. what's your reaction to that? thomas: maybe things need to get done. i don't know how they bid it out.
i'm sure donald trump would say i could do it cheaper or as some other developer would tend to say. the capital is being redone. we don't want things to fall apart. we want things to be safe. and maybe too much, but some of those things, over time need to be done. probably less expensively. brian: $14 million. for duplicative catfish inspection office. among the many wasteful provisions in the fy 15 appropriations bill was a costly provision from the department of agriculture involving a catfish inspection office. there are 1.8 billion catfish enjoyed by americans each year. thomas: they have tried to eliminate that duplication. they have been defeated.
this is another example where common sense gets taken over by the inside the beltway mentality. it does not make sense anywhere else except in washington that you would have two agencies looking at catfish. it's ridiculous. brian: congressman steve russell from oklahoma. he is involved in his own waste project. this is called "waste watch." he is also a retired lieutenant colonel. [video clip] >> wasn't there some money being spent on elephants and national security? >> some of the most interesting we have seen, we brought over a bunch of people from the middle east to do films, learn how to be filmmakers. they went back and made anti-u.s. films with our training. that's always nice. there was $100 million missing that no one can account for in the state department in afghanistan. we are asking where it is.
we do have the ability to reach down and get to the bottom of these issues. brian: in his book, here is one item. $30,000 item. it's not very large. the national endowment for the humanities provided nearly $30,000 for a study to understand toxic rhetoric in online spaces in computer games. thomas: there is no way that would be useful or stop anyone from doing whatever they are doing online. brian: in 2012, the national endowment for the arts awarded a $40,000 grant for a video game based on walden. the game was panned by critics. the message of the book was experiencing the essential facts of life.
in 2015, the national endowment for the humanities, picked up where the nea left off doubling down with a $100,000 grant to finish the project. thomas: this is why they are on many lists of agencies that should be eliminated. before they were established in 1963, did we have arts and humanities? of course we did. we just didn't have the government involved in spending about $180 million on each agency each year for projects that, yes, they would not get done otherwise. they probably shouldn't get done. brian: who does not like what you do? thomas: people who like to spend money. that is sometimes both sides of the aisle. we make interesting alliances. we also deal with tax issues. there was a press conference with a bipartisan group supporting a permanent extension of the internet access tax moratorium. right, left, middle.
they were all there talking about the impact on minorities and taxpayers. the farm bill is another example. that is left, right, middle. people oppose tax subsidies for various farm programs. we tend to find a lot of alliances that people might not think about. generally, depending on the issue, it depends on who is on the other side. brian: congressman russell's book also talked about in 2014, the department of energy had 40 conferences at hotels instead of using federal government space. the doe held its fifth annual advanced research project innovation summit at the gaylord national resort and convention center. they talk about thousands and thousands of dollars for these events. thomas: that is another example where the publicity has created change.
they have now cut back on agency budgets for these conferences. this began about re-for years ago. the department of justice was putting together these lavish conferences. congress took steps to restrict them. there is an example where this is understandable to people. if you travel for your company, you will not go to the most lavish resort. people see this and say -- i don't get this so why is congress getting this? brian: i want to put on this screen a list of the different sites that we found. people that are interested can go to them. citizens against government waste which is yours. senator john mccain's site. there is a group called watchdog.org. thomas: the franklin center does a lot of work at the state level.
brian: the heritage foundation. thomas: they have also found examples of wasteful spending. brian: some of your critics say that you use your organization to help your funders on the hill get things passed. thomas: that is a criticism around washington. we don't do anything that doesn't benefit our members. and of course the organizations that support us would not do so if they did not think that our mission was going to be moved forward. over time, it is been about 80% individual support and 20% from corporations and associations. the vast majority of our support comes from individual taxpayers. why would we not want to fight against internet access taxes? there are companies that might benefit.
we know exactly what we should be doing. brian: do you ever get tired? thomas: no. i have been doing it for a long time. i spent six years on capitol hill with senator fischer as i mentioned. i love going in there every day. we really tried to get things done that benefit the taxpayers. brian: here is one that goes way back to the senators golden fleece award. the federal aviation administration was named for spending $57,000 for a study of physical measurements for 432 airline stewardesses paying special attention to the length of the buttocks and how their
knees were arranged when they were seated. they also gave an award to study the sex life of the screw worm fly. thomas: the screw worm research was in the pig book for many years. we talked briefly about the moratorium on earmarks. none of that would have come about without a bipartisan effort and finally convincing the senate -- even president obama said we should put a moratorium on earmarks. according to the house and senate, there are few compared he to the old days. brian: i need to read you a couple of others. the department of commerce for
building a 10 story replica of the great pyramid in bedford, indiana. it was begun in 1979. the money was insufficient and the site is a bandage. thomas: you are mentioning a lot of projects that i remember. all of those helped lay the groundwork for getting rid of a lot of these earmarks. and moving towards this moratorium. brian: here is one. the u.s. department of defense for $3000 to determine if the people in the military should carry umbrellas in the rain. thomas: i'm not surprised at those kinds of expenditures. the grace commission helped publicize the expense of hammer and the expensive toilet seat. brian: how do you do your work?
what is the most valuable tool you have defined these examples? thomas: there is so much more information available now which is helpful. we were in business long before the internet. in many cases we did not get copies of the bills. you had to go up and read them in the clerk's office or go to a member of congress. transparency would be helpful. we want to know who is still putting in these earmarks. are they calling agencies to say give my state or district more money? that is really part of what we now do. the reports of the inspectors general, the gao, the members of congress. it is all there.
brian: here's from the pig book. $5 million on abstinence education. congress has added 129 earmarks for $23.2 million for such programs since 2001. in 2008, senator arlen specter was responsible for 47 abstinence earmarks for pennsylvania. we are talking about abstinence from sex. what is the government doing getting involved in that? thomas: we have always had fun with that win. we would like them to abstain from funding these ridiculous projects. this is a perfect example of why people are angry at washington. brian: we have some charts. one is of porkbarrel spending.
1991-2015. there is a huge dip. what happened? thomas: the two years that you see 0s, they had an omnibus bill. there were no specific expenditures. we went almost back to where we started. even under our definition, which differs from congress, we are having fewer and fewer earmarks. we may be back up this year but we will see. brian: when will the next book come out and where can they find it? thomas: we plan to put it out april 12. early april.
it can be found at cagw.org. brian: anything you can tell us about? thomas: more money spent on alternative energy at the department of energy. biofuels at the department of defense. it is lower than in previous years. maybe $40 million instead of $100 million. progress in terms of that type of expenditure. more money will be spent on the m1 abrams tank. more in remarks that the pentagon doesn't want and doesn't need. they are sitting in the desert. they can only be used for certain types of warfare. ask for those tanks that congress says you are going to get them whether you wanted or not. does that? thomas: they are made all over the country. a quick example of something that was a local thing, the alternative engine was something the pentagon did not want.
two administrations said they did not want to. it was being built in ohio and massachusetts. those members kept pushing it and finally we got rid of it. but that took five years. brian: our guest has done the same kind of work for 30 years. where is home? thomas: it is in long island. brian: he is the president for the citizens against government waste. the author of the pig book every year. we thank thomas schatz for joining us. thomas: thank you, brian. ♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this
program, visit us at q-and-a.org. our program is also available as a c-span podcast. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> if you liked this program, here are some others you might enjoy, former oklahoma senator tom coburn about his time in congress and his disappointment with the government when it comes to spending and transparency. kimberly from the wall street journal talks about her column which gives readers a glimpse into the policies of washington. and special inspector general on how taxpayer dollars are being spent to construct buildings and infrastructure in afghanistan. you can find all of those interviews online at c-span.org.