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Tom Coburn is not amused by antics of GPO’s comic mouse

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Possibly the cutest waste of taxpayer dollars Sen. Coburn ever laid eyes upon.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., just released his Wastebook report, which highlights government programs he feels are pointless and have frittered away precious money we don’t have — $11.5 billion, to be exact. There’s several examples of outdated federal buildings being maintained when they probably should be canned, odd scientific studies (World of Warcraft? really?) and museum grants, and improper payments made to criminal gangs and prisoners — your run-of-the-mill government waste, more or less.

But this year Coburn highlights an unusual example of what he feels is pointless government spending: The Government Printing Office’s educational comic book, “Squeaks Discovers Type!” As we wrote back in September, GPO decided to come up with a way to teach kids how important printing remains as part of its 150th anniversary celebration, so it came up with the idea of doing a comic. Creating “Squeaks” was an in-house job — two GPO employees wrote and drew it, and the agency printed it up on its own presses.

Coburn didn’t find it funny. The comic’s print run of 5,500 copies cost $60,000 to print, he said. And even if GPO sold all copies of the $5 comic, they’d still lose $5.70 on each copy. That means in a best-case scenario, Squeaks would cost GPO $31,350, Coburn’s report said:

The GPO calls that loss a ‘marketing expense,’ part of its effort to educate the public on its mission. Taxpayers — who footed the bill for the project — might have another name for it.

I asked GPO for a response to Coburn’s report this morning, and will update when they get back to me.

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  1. John Viertel Says:
    December 20th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Being a printer, I am interested in a line item description of that expenditure. Sounds like some money (our money) got laundered, aside from the pointlessness of printed only 5,500 copies to “educate the public”.

  2. Buckeyeguy Says:
    December 21st, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Does not sound like such a waste to me. Only printing 5,500 copies might have been a little short-sighted, however.