NASA Climate Comic Books Make McCain's "America's Most Wasted" List – UPDATE

NASA Climate Comic Books Make McCain's "America's Most Wasted" List – UPDATE

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued a new “America’s Most Wasted: Runaway Spending” list today presenting what he considers prime examples of wasted taxpayer resources.   A NASA project to help explain climate through comic books is one of the examples on the list.

This is McCain’s fourth report “exposing and shaming wasteful and outrageous government spending” as he calls it.  The first identified $1.1 billion spent on programs that were no longer authorized by Congress.   The next two focused on DOD activities.  This one looks broadly at government spending and categorizes $27 billion as “pork-barrel projects” that waste taxpayer resources.  

The 51 projects on McCain’s list span everything from a study on how children cross the street to mismanaged Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants to a DOD warehouse in Afghanistan that was never used. 

The $12,000 NASA spent on climate comic books is 35th on the list, though it is not clear how the list is organized.  It is not by the amount of money “wasted,” which ranges from $5,000 to study Hello Kitty to $11 billion in Social Security disability overpayments.  (The report also includes $99 billion in “job-killing regulatory costs,” but that is not part of  the $27 billion McCain uses as wasted taxpayer money apparently because it affects businesses, not individuals.)

The NASA project involved the creation of five comic books by Japanese science cartoonist Hayanon explaining aerosols, clouds, ice, fire, water and monsoons and land, according to McCain’s report, which added “$12,000 may not be a seem like [sic] significant amount of money when compared to NASA’s overall budget,” but “has little to do with reaching NASA’s goal of ‘pushing the boundaries’ of space flight.”

NASA responded in an emailed statement to, noting that one of its core functions is to “provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities.”  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center News Chief Ed Campion said that the comic book format “is a popular tool used by education and public outreach efforts to interest children in science, technology, engineering and math.  These particular comics encourage younger children to understand how NASA is investigating our home planet and inspiring them to study the science of climate and weather.”

Editor’s note:  This article was originally published on January 7, 2015 and updated at 4:30 pm ET that day with NASA’s response to our request for comment.

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