The amount of money being squandered by this Republican administration is simply awe inspiring — and now the words “hypocritical” and “downright false” can be added to squander, as well. Take a look at some of the Republican highrollers, starting with Tom Price.
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That was then this is now.
… many of the flights are between large cities with frequent, low-cost airline traffic, such as a trip from Washington to Nashville that the secretary took on June 6 to make a morning event at a medication distributor and an afternoon speech. There are four regular nonstop flights that leave Washington-area airports between 6:59 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. and arrive in Nashville by 9:46 a.m. CT. Sample round-trip fares for those flights were as low as $202, when booked in advance on Orbitz.com. Price’s charter, according to HHS’ contract with Classic Air Charter, cost $17,760.
Does anybody remember when Richard Nixon was complaining about elitist Jack Kennedy’s wife Jackie photographed in a mink and he touted his own wife Pat’s “sensible cloth coat?” Whatever happened to that? In those days the Republicans put up a front of frugality, at least. Now they don’t even bother to do that.
But this isn’t surprising because if you take a look at the situation from the top down, nobody is more of a miscreant when it comes to squandering taxpayer money than Donald Trump. Politifact:
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In an interview, [Senior Editor for The Atlantic and former George W. Bush speechwriter David] Frum clarified that “personal lifestyle costs” excluded work trips, such as the G20 conference in Hamburg, Germany, or presidential residences where security costs are fixed, like the presidential retreat at Camp David.
The pricey personal trips Frum had in mind include weekend trips to Trump-owned golf resorts in Palm Beach, Fla., Sterling, Va., and Bedminster, N.J.
“The Florida/Bedminster costs are entirely volitional, as are the costs of Melania’s decision to live apart from her husband for most of his first year in office. There is no public purpose to any of those decisions,” Frum told PolitiFact.
But vying for Fiscal Ruin Poster Child is without question, Scott Pruitt. Pruitt spent half of his time his first three months not only out of the office and not working, but flying back to Oklahoma at the taxpayers’ expense. Salon:
Since Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in, he has spent 48 of his 92 days out of the office. Most of Pruitt’s time away from D.C. was spent in Oklahoma, his home state, according to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), a group founded by former EPA officials.
The EPA has spent more than $12,000 on airfare alone for Pruitt thus far. According to the Environmental Integrity Project, those numbers do not include additional airline costs for Pruitt’s staff members and security detail. Hotel costs were not included in the numbers released by the EPA, either.
Pruitt was merely squandering money and not working then; now he’s down and out paranoid and the taxpayers have to pay for that as well. Just this week it was reported that Pruitt has demanded 24/7 security guard protection — from his own agents, hired to investigate environmental crimes, due to the number of threats he’s gotten from his aggressiveness in trying to reverse Obama-era policies and his climate change denial. Washington Post:
“These guys signed on to work on complex environmental cases, not to be an executive protection detail,” Hubbard said. “It’s not only not what they want to do, it’s not what they were trained and paid to do.”
While the agency’s Office of Inspector General does not discuss the actual number of threats against Pruitt or others at the EPA, it did say investigators have opened more cases this fiscal year than in fiscal 2016. Thirty-two percent were aimed at Pruitt — including “some very personal, ugly threats,” said Patrick Sullivan, the EPA assistant inspector general for investigations — compared with 9 percent directed at his predecessor Gina McCarthy in fiscal 2016.
Pruitt now has 24/7 protection from a security detail of eighteen, and $800,000 has been allocated for their airline travel.
Then there’s Betsy DeVos. Her fiscal picture is not simple, but then nothing about this woman is simple other than her mind. Here’s what she told Politico yesterday:
“Secretary DeVos travels on personally-owned aircraft, accompanied by her security detail and whenever possible, additional support staff, at zero cost to U.S. taxpayers,” said spokeswoman Liz Hill in an email.
“The secretary neither seeks, nor accepts, any reimbursement for her flights, nor for any additional official travel-related expenses, such as lodging and per diem, even though she is entitled to such reimbursement under government travel regulations,” Hill said.
DeVos is also planning to donate her government salary to charity.
Well, that’s cheerful news. It would seem that DeVos’ prudence would perhaps mitigate Price’s extravagance. Until you read this in the Washington Post:
Federal marshals are protecting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a cost to her agency of nearly $8 million over nearly eight months, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
The Education Department has agreed to reimburse the marshals $7.78 million for their services from mid-February to the end of September, said a marshals spokeswoman — an average of about $1 million per month.
Marshals will continue providing security for the education secretary for the next four years, or until either agency decides to terminate the arrangement, under an agreement signed last week. There was no information immediately available about what that would cost beyond September.
DeVos is the only Cabinet secretary under the protection of the marshals, law enforcement officers who are generally responsible for protecting federal judges, transporting prisoners, apprehending fugitives and protecting witnesses. They also guard the deputy attorney general and Supreme Court justices when they travel.
So Betsy may save us money in one pocket with the airfare, but she’s emptying another pocket with security expenses simultaneously. Now what would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad is that the woman’s brother is none other than Blackwater mercenary Erik Prince. Is it not feasible that he could assign a few security guards to his own sister? Especially since they’re Republicans and that’s the party of Family Values?
Republicans want to shrink government and how you shrink government by wanton spending is something that perhaps a Republican economist could explain. It’s been said that this administration is something out of George Orwell and that’s true. It’s also something out of Charles Dickens.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.