April 7 -- From an indoor rain forest in Iowa to a Florida program that encourages children to play golf, American taxpayers are footing the bill for some serious pork-barrel spending this year, according to a new report.
"The Pig Book," published annually by Citizens Against Government Waste, is a story of politics and pork, written in red ink, exposing some of the pet projects the group says will cost taxpayers $23 billion this fiscal year.
This year's edition is being released at a time when the nation's budget is $521 billion out of balance, the national debt is $7 trillion and rising, and Americans are getting ready to pay the piper with the annual tax deadline approaching.
The group releases the scathing new report on pork-barrel spending later today, but Good Morning America got a sneak preview of some of the projects included.
The Pig Book identifies 10,656 projects in this year's appropriations bills, worth a total of $22.9 billion.
"We don't have the money to do this, and whether we had it or we didn't have it, it's still a waste," said Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
Deficit-defying programs that Congress decided the nation just can't do without include $270,000 to Wisconsin for vital work on potato storage, another $270,000 to Montana, Texas and Wyoming for wool research and $238,000 for a South Carolina group promoting conservation and hunting of wild turkeys.
"The mentality is that pork-barrel spending will help members get re-elected, and taxpayers reinforce that because not enough of them say to their elected officials: 'Don't fund this through the federal government,' " Schatz said.
From Patriotism to Turkeys
Taxpayers will spend $1 million on a patriotism-for-kids project, part of which will go to a video that praises patriotic holidays. Another $2 million in federal tax funds will go to a Florida program encouraging kids to take up golf.