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20 federal agencies that run 56 programs dealing with financial literacy.

80 economic development programs sprinkled across four agencies that cost taxpayers $6.5 billion.

Transportation Department spending of $58 billion on 100 programs employing 6,000 employees “that haven’t evolved since 1956.”

15 federal agencies that administer more than 30 food-related laws.

Five departments overseeing nearly $6.5 billion dealing with bioterrorism.

“This report shows we could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars without cutting services. And in many cases smart consolidations will improve service,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, the waste-fighting Oklahoma Republican known as “Dr. No,” who requested the study.

Dubious spending can be found in virtually every corner of the vast federal bureaucracy, often in agencies that are among the government’s most sacred cows, immune from any budget cuts.

Mr. Obama has been pushing for more spending on science, including the $31 billion National Institutes of Health. But an investigation by health care analyst David Maris of Forbes magazine found some shocking expenditures.

They included $386,000 to study massage therapy on rabbits, $453,000 to study breathing in meditation and $1.1 million to study weight loss through medication, all part of a long list of studies that Mr. Maris called “flaky.”

In a perfect world, Congress would have an efficient, high-tech, cross-referenced, legislative oversight system to apply a hard-nosed annual review of every program and expenditure in the government. None exists. Its creaky, disorganized, snail’s-pace committee structure is basically the same one that existed in the 18th century.

Most of the wasteful, expendable programs I criticized in “Fat City” are still there, spending money. They include the Export-Import Bank, which bankrolls the richest Fortune 500 companies; a small-business agency that, for all its billions of dollars, has had a minuscule impact on business creation; and agriculture programs right out of the horse-and-buggy era.

One of these days, a presidential candidate will run on a radical platform of overhauling this antiquated, wasteful bureaucracy we have constructed over 200 years.

Until then, we are paying through the nose for a lot more government than we need or can afford that is quickly eroding the foundations of our country and its economy.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.