Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $900,000 for Shakespeare Theatre in D.C.

This week’s taxpayer rip-off of the week comes compliments of the 2005 D.C. Appropriations bill (HR 4850), to the sweet tune of $900,000. This time, the big fat check is made out to the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C.

According to the Shakespeare Theatre’s website, record-breaking attendance, ticket revenue, and other earned income only account for half of the theatre’s $12 million operating budget. But there is no reason to brood. More than 300 corporations, foundations, and public agencies, not to mention 7,500 individuals, are generous enough to make up the other half. It doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to figure out that the theatre’s $12 million dollar operating budget is more than covered by its whopping annual revenue of $20.8 million. Indeed, in 2003, expenses totaled $11.4 million, $9.4 million less than its incoming revenue for the year. And wait — there’s more. The theatre’s assets total a cool $39.5 million. Shakespeare never had it so good.

Now, I like to see a play as much as the next person, but 900,000 taxpayer dollars to fund a private, not to mention, independently wealthy theatre takes "crossing the line" to a whole new level. Our political officers must be held accountable for spending other peoples’ money.

Lastly, I would like to express my support for Senator Coburn’s (R-OK) recent proposal to offer an amendment on every pork project slapped onto appropriation bills. Senator Coburn’s courage in standing up to the Washington political bosses is refreshing. I admire his boldness and join him in declaring my own dedication to cutting the astonishing level of wasteful spending. The buck, literally, stops here.