Travel by Presidents and Congress
Needs Scrutiny, Accountability, An Ingredient of Personal Responsibility by the elected and Costs of the travel must be Transparent.
“While policy dictates that tax money does not cover any personal expenses, the cost of security has historically been placed on the taxpayer.” Do Presidents reimburse for the personal? How would we know?
Much has been made of the Obama’s frequent flyer miles at government, read taxpayer expense. Is it fair? Well yes. Scrutiny and asking questions I think is a right to be enjoyed by America’s citizens. What we need is transparency that we can read, not numbers thrown like chicken feed by MSM.
We need accountability through transparency especially during this time when Americans hit hard by unemployment, loss to their retirement savings, millions who have been foreclosed on either legally or not, looming cuts to SS and Medicare, sequestration etc..
I feel compelled to add this. Not all of the woes of foreclosure can arguably be blamed on the citizen the problem was inflicted by irresponsible behavior by banks, Wall Street gamblers and frankly a dysfunctional, complacent, complicit government who surrounds themselves with the bad guys all for unethical gain. At least without transparency what else can we make of it? People made money, and they still are, you and I have not profited but those in high places of business and government were not hurt. We the people are ask to do our fair share. We are ask, well some of us are, to take personal responsibility. Do government representatives take personal responsibility? Well no. They wait until they are caught and ‘seemingly’ make amends. Even if caught are they repeat offenders? See Menendaz Story.
Obama made for sure a political blunder when he whined that the sequester would result in closing the peoples house to tours while spending millions on vacations and trips to promote his agenda. But as it turns out “promoting an agenda” is a perk.
We patriots should demand parameters around ‘agenda’, strict ones and this defining should not be left to the Washington elected elites.
To be fair all Presidents past and current take advantage of the perk awarded generously by the American taxpayer. Obama is not the first nor will he be the last to do so. However is it too much to ask of the House of Representatives to stop, crackdown, on a great deal of the practice? Presidents (and lets not forget Vice Presidents and yes Congress) should be, don’t you think well more responsible and considerate of monies that cost the taxpayer? Of course. See. We the people need not be complicit as well, we need to speak out and demand change.
Transparency, a mantra of the current President, is truly lacking. Why is it that we the people can not go to Whitehouse.gov and view the expenditures when a President uses the peoples tools at his disposal e.g. Secret Services, Air Force One etc.? Any time a President decides to take a vacation, a trip for campaign gain or even official foreign jaunts a spreadsheet of the expenditures should be made available and not three months later but after the trip. We the people should not whine instead call for this transparency and accountability.
We should not discount the monetary cost to State and local police services. Are they reimbursed? Don’t know. Is it a privilege to have a President visit your city, town? Well no. There is a high price tag when they do. The cost of these services, paid or not by the Federal, should be transparent.
One question that haunts me is can we the people be confident that personal cost incurred by these elites are actually paid by them. Do they actually reimburse the taxpayer? Are they paid for by political donors? Or is the personal expense written off by their staff, is it hidden? Be surprised if it wasn’t actually covered up, hidden by them. What else can we think? Transparency might clean the slate of doubt. It is our right to demand transparency. Good stewardship, personal responsibility and complete transparency is key.
As I said in the spirit of fairness I found this comparison on recent Presidents. You decide the validity. See comparison.
My goal writing this commentary is not to disparage one President or the other all past and present are targets. The key here is personal responsibility by each President. Careful consideration by them taking in all factors like impact on cost, taxpayers, Federal resources, costs to the State and the local resources. It is all about taking personal responsibility by any President, Vice President, members of Congress or a government agency head.
Presidential Travel: Policy and Costs (this covers the Vice President as well)
Of interest is ‘Official Travel’ Rules by Congress
Although not specific to travel reimbursement of Congressional members this is still an interesting report. See Compensation for Members of Congress and Related Benefits
We the people, perhaps using the Tea Party as the vehicle, should press for some changes. The campaign contributor, Super Pacs, little Pacs, perhaps Unions, being allowed to share in some cost of government travel is ripe for target. The practice whether for Democrats or Republicans is I think a cesspool for cronyism, ethics violation etc. What else can we think without transparency?
In a recent article in NEWSMAX, Sequester Impedes Congressional Travel, “House Speaker John Boehner suggested last month that lawmakers should avoid CODELS if possible, given the government’s ongoing fiscal problems. And more recently he told House Republicans he would no longer authorize the use of military aircraft for official overseas travel, even to Afghanistan and Iraq”. While this was an admirable decision, responsibility at all times by Congress and the Executive should be the rule not the exception.
Recall the brouhaha regarding Nancy Pelosi being given a military plane to fly back and forth to California. Well it turns out while true it is also true that after the 9/11 attacks George W. Bush ordered that the Speaker of the House, next in line to become President after the Vice President, be given a military plane for travel. Its a fact we live in a dangerous world and our leaders can be targets by extremist. It can not be argued that it hasn’t happened nor not a possibility that it could happen in the future. I concede that a President falls in a different category requiring ‘special’ security protection. But again consideration, personal responsibility in choosing trips to take should be the rule that guides them. Consideration to we the people not a decision made for self political gain, pushing agendas of the party they are affiliated with nor to a business that receives funding by the government. Just my personal belief.
The point is self restraint, personal responsibility by members of the Executive and Congress to consider cost to the taxpayer. They might say “we do”. I don’t think that is true across the board. Do you? Do the rules need to be toughened up?
When restrictions, rules, are placed on travel cost (we the people allow them to write the rules, its like putting a pack of wolves to watch the chicken houses. Folks we have wolves in our chicken houses.) either on Congressional Members or the President and the Vice President applying in both good and bad economic times is there good incentives for either party to really have good, honorable oversight? Well no. Both party’s members enjoy. A party spokesperson or a oversight subcommittee may for political gain, rail on each other, however can we expect change, accountability, personal responsibility that requires asking themselves “is the trip, or perk I am going to receive, necessary, is it cronyism (smell test) either for payback or future political gain that either brings money to my campaign or my personal pocket? Is this question one that we the people should force them to do? Well yes. Without transparency we are left with only the thought, they are all crooks.
Make no mistake even if a government representative of we the people make the mistake, a serious one, to accept personal trips paid for by a citizen, a donor they should be reprimanded, face the ethics committee and marched off the floor forever or out of the peoples House. See While it was costly in personal wealth to Menendez, Menendez suffered no real punishment from Congress. He just got caught. How many of the yahoos get by with it? Take into consideration was he held to any real accountability by a Democrat or a Republican in Congress? No, the story faded. Lets face it both parties have Pepe’ Le Pew spray all over them. Again, they wait until they are caught and ‘seemingly’ make amends. Even if caught are they repeat offenders?
We the people deserve better, we deserve accountability by are political servants in all things government. Demand it! The question is how do we effectively accomplish this? Well the vote while I am overjoyed that we still have the right, it is not enough. We must ask representative government for whom do they work? We must demand transparency in all aspects of government. It is just not their government it is ours as well, They need to be reminded, they need to be held accountable, that they are servants of a representative government (possibly temporary ones). Propose changes my fellow Patriot.
Let’s dialogue on what action to take, then take action. What do ya say? Reply at the end of this commentary.
Another consideration. We pay for a big jets and security for the VP, for the speaker of the house right?. How many others DOD head, CIA Director, FBI Director, DHS head, Agriculture head etc.? Not sure. And what is the cost we pay for each member of Congress? Bet its millions upon millions. Should these people report travel costs in a transparent way? Of course! The result if they don’t we are left to think of the whole kitten kaboodle as crooks. Sadly they seem not to give a rats ass that we think of them as crooks. Now chew on that.
Accountability, personal responsibility, travel within reason, transparency for all of them.