Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called for Democrats to agree to cut spending on programs such as those that study the manure of Chinese swine — and do it without demanding tax increases.

“I mean, why is the federal government funding Chinese studies on pig manure, and research into the smoking habits of Jordanian college students, and reality TV shows in India?” McConnell said today on the Senate floor. “Are Democrats prepared to cut this kind of waste? Because if they’re not – if they demand a 1:1 ratio between tax increases and pig manure cuts – then there’s really no hope of ever putting our country back on a path to prosperity.”

The Heritage Foundation mentioned the spending on such programs in a report last year that projected federal spending to rise to “$5.5 trillion a decade from now, and to about 36 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the next 25 years.”

Per the report, the funding for the Chinese swine manure study came from a $141,450 grant from Environmental Protection Agency. “Taxpayers funded a National Institutes of Health study costing $55,382 in 2011, and $170,000 over three years, to study the hookah smoking habits of Jordanian university students,” report author Alison Acosta Fraser also noted. The reality TV show money was spent to advertise U.S. cotton in India, through the Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program, which spends $200 million a year promoting American exports.

“A significant portion of the dramatic spending increase to come is the result of tens of millions of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age,” McConnell said today. “But that’s only one part of the problem. We also need to shine a light into every corner of the budget, especially the dark corners that often evade real scrutiny.”

The Heritage report detailed numerous other examples of questionable spending, including the $2.1 billion that the federal government spends every year paying farmers not to farm and the millions that the Justice Department spends conferences.

“In 2008 and 2009 alone, the Department of Justice spent (DOJ)$121 million to host or participate in 1,832 conference,” Heritage noted. “An internal audit found DOJ did not keep costs to a minimum, despite federal guidelines. The most expensive conference reviewed in the audit was held in Istanbul, Turkey, and cost $1.18 million.”