Senator Tom Coburn’s report on spending on ridiculous projects may have retired with the senator but now we have Senator John McCain’s report on massive spending on government programs that no longer exist.

Seems that we’ve spent billions already this year on programs that, not to put too fine a point on it, are defunct:

The federal government is set to spend at least $294 billion of taxpayer money on hundreds of expired programs this year alone, according to a report released Thursday.

The 19-page "America's Most Wasted" report from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is the first in a series of oversight studies meant to shed a light on wasteful and duplicative government spending.

In 2014, the government spent $302 billion on federal programs no longer authorized to receive tax dollars. The $294 billion being spent this year stems from a report released by the Congressional Budget Office in January.

To get some perspective on the level of waste, remember that the Obama stimulus package was $787 billion. Here are some highlights on wasteful projects:

• $50,000 for the Army to research the bomb-detecting capabilities of elephants

• $30,000 for puppet shows in Vermont

• $49 million of National Guard spending on pro sports advertising

• $14 million for duplicative Catfish Inspection Office

• $15,000 for EPA to study pollution from your backyard BBQ

It would be interesting to know more about the process: how do you spend money on a program that doesn't exist?

What actually happens to the money?

Victor Davis Hanson had an excellent and sobering piece earlier this week on why civilizations fall apart after centuries of success. It’s not on spending taxpayer money on programs the authorities have forgotten are defunct. But this kind of negligence does play into what Davis talks about in the article:

What ruins societies is well known: too much consumption and not enough production, a debased currency, and endemic corruption.

Americans currently deal with all those symptoms. But two more fundamental causes for decline are even more frightening: an unwillingness to pay taxes and the end of the rule of law.

(Hanson is talking about the unwillingness of people like Al Sharpton to pay their taxes, not about a re-evaluation of the tax system and where the money is spent.)

The “Most Wasted” report is just the latest reason to feel that government has become so huge and unresponsive that it represents a form of decadence in the republic.