As the president prepares to unveil his federal budget plan next week, it's a good time to remember that there are boondoggles, and then there are boondoggles. Under the latter, see the multi-billion-dollar "Chemical and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility," a single unfinished building in a New Mexico nuclear complex whose cost has ballooned since its approval a decade ago, and whose main purpose is to build stuff we don't need: plutonium components for new atomic bombs.
As you can see from the Project on Government Oversight's infographic below, the entire CMRR complex, located at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was slated to cost US taxpayers $375 million in 2001. But now, just one half of that two-building plant is expected to cost between $3.7 and $5.9 billion. "[S]everal major changes have occurred that have fundamentally affected the basis of the cost estimate," a Los Alamos talking points memo states. Basically, construction costs rose and mistakes were made, since nobody's built anything like this before. Here's the result:
What does that buy America? According to a 2008 congressional report, the facility and its surrounding complex have "no coherent mission to justify it unless the decision is made to begin an aggressive new nuclear warhead design and pit production mission at Los Alamos National Laboratory." In other words, its purpose is to build new nukes—and at a time when we're supposed to be cutting our nuclear arsenal, not expanding it.