US Politics

Feds Spend Billions on Useless Samples, Public Relations Gimmicks, and Mascots Nobody Knows

WASHINGTON—Everybody knows who “Smokey the Bear” is, but do you know about “The Green Reaper?” How about “Brite the Light Bulb?” Or “Rex the Ready Lion” and his buddies, “Eli and Layla the Mighty Minters?”

No? Well, dont worry, because hardly anybody else has ever heard of these mascots either. They were paid for as part of the $1.4 billion federal bureaucrats spend annually trying to drum up public support and awareness for a multitude of obscure government programs.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) says such wasteful spending should stop. To that end, Ernst introduced the “Stop Wasteful Advertising by the Government Act of 2019” (SWAG) to put an end to tax-paid, throw-away goodies like keychains, fidget spinners, and koozies.

“As an Iowa State Cyclone fan, Ill be the first to say that mascots can be fun. But there is no justification for spending a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money on mascots and millions more on swag,” Ernst said in a statement announcing her proposal.

“These costs come at the expense of real national priorities. The $1.4 billion spent on government PR and advertising every year, for example, is twice the amount dedicated to breast cancer research. Its time to bag the swag,” she said.

The term “swag,” as used by Ernst, is slang for “stuff we all get,” especially at trade shows, fairs, and conventions, according to an entry in the Urban Dictionary.

If enacted, her proposal would prohibit the federal government from spending money to create a “mascot” to promote an agency, program, or agenda, unless such a character is explicitly authorized by statute—like “Smokey Bear” or “Woodsy Owl.”

It would also permanently prohibit public relations and advertising for purely propaganda purposes, allowing exceptions for military recruitment and other specific functions that are authorized by statute; require agencies to publicly disclose spending on public relations and advertising; and prohibit the purchase and distribution of merchandise such as buttons, coloring books, fidget spinners, keychains, koozies, or stickers by federal agencies, unless explicitly authorized by statute.

“Federal agencies have paid a frightening $250,000 of taxpayer money to construct their own custom-made costumes of characters most people would not know or recognize,” according to a fact sheet Ernst released in conjunction with her statement concerning her proposal.

“At least one reportedly scares children, while others are difficult to move in or obstruct eyesight, which violates the governments own Halloween safety recommendations.”

Among the 18 mascots Ernst highlighted were:

  • “The Green Reaper” for the Department of Energys National Security Technologies Energy Program. Instead of a deadly scythe, the mascot holds a flower to encourage elementary school kids to conserve energy.
  • “Sammy Soil” is used by the Department of Agriculture to promote the National Resources Conservation Services program.
  • “Brite the Light Bulb” was created by the Department of Defense (DOD) to promote the U.S. Navy Installation Commands Shore Energy Program.
  • “Franklin the Fair Housing Fox” comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Opportunity. The fact sheet quotes a HUD official, saying “our hope is that this mascot will lead to greater housing opportunities for all.”
  • “Rex the Ready Lion” comes Read More – Source

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