Bill would 'bag the swag' to cut federal spending

WASHINGTON — A bill before Congress would cut federal spending on marketing swag like coloring books, keychains and obscure mascots.

A 2017 study shows the federal government spends more than a billion dollars annually on PR items, including a quarter of a million alone on little-known mascots. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, says that’s too much.

“It’s not really serving the interest of the taxpayers,” she said, “We do want to bag the swag.”

Her bill, dubbed the Swag Act, would ban federal agencies from spending tax dollars on things like mascots, “drink koozies and Snuggies, if you can believe it,” she said.

But in a federal budget that included more than $4 trillion last year, “it is a drop in the bucket,” Joel Griffith of the conservative Heritage Foundation said.

“But I think this illustrates the enormity of the problem that we have,” he said. “It’s been almost two decades now since we had a balanced budget.”

He noted that budget cuts are difficult.

“There are people that do benefit from the spending,” he said.

Ernst said her cuts would spare some popular mascots like Smokey Bear (“Only you can prevent forest fires!”) and Woodsy Owl (“Give a hoot, don’t pollute!”).

So far, no Democrats have backed the measure.