Vacationing for the Public Good: Members Massively Increase Travel at Taxpayer Expense for Themselves and Family

200px-Tour_Eiffel_Wikimedia_CommonsThe members of Congress are once again facing the dangers of public service from sunburns to shopping overload. Our public servants are again planning their summer vacations at public expense. Many of us have been concerned about the runaway spending of this Administration and Congress. For prior columns, click here and here. Even if one accepts some spending was necessary for stimulus, Democrats have used the economic recovery as an excuse to pile on spending programs and pork projects. Now, it appears that overseas travel expenses are up tenfold since 1995. Congressional delegations, or “codels,” have increased 70% since 2005.

When the Congress is comfortable speaking about trillions in appropriations, billions are now small change. There is an allegation that the White House bought a single vote for the global warming bill for over $3 billion.

Some of us have objected to congressional travel junkets for years. This is a blatant abuse of both parties to get taxpayers to fund what are really vacations for members. There is very little purpose to these trips. While Congress does have international concerns, it is ludicrous to suggest that they have to go to places like Paris to understand the issues before them. It also tends to cause difficulties and embarrassments for foreign policy as members make inappropriate or conflicting statements abroad.

It is a measure of how much members love this perk that they continue to go to places like the Galápagos Islands despite the overwhelming criticism. Voters again seem unwilling to vote against their own members for this form of corruption.
In 2008, the Congress spent $13 million on such travel — a 50% increase over two years. That’s a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.

When members fly on government planes, their spouses fly for free — completing the perfect taxpayer-funded vacation for our ruling elite. In June, Senators charged the taxpayers to fly to the Paris Air Show and stayed at the pricey Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel with dinner at the Eiffel Tower.

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby took a cruise on the River Seine to “educate” himself.

In February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needed to see the troops in Afghanistan so she spent eight days in Italy with staff and spouses on the way.

Rep. Brian Baird (D., Wash.) took his wife, four other lawmakers and family, and staff to the Galápagos Islands – – to learn about global warming.

While thousands are put out of work each day, these members are charging the public to jet set around the world. Yet, Democratic and Republican voters remain largely silent in the face of such corruption. These members have shown that the “red state/blue state” politics is so successful that they can display the most gross forms of excess without concerns.

For the full story, click here.

11 thoughts on “Vacationing for the Public Good: Members Massively Increase Travel at Taxpayer Expense for Themselves and Family”

  1. – America Land of the Hypocrites –

    Congress, Obama and his administration are guilty of obstruction of justice in cover-up of torture and other War Crimes.

    They are complicit in War Crimes and should be prosecuted.

  2. With that kind of salary and those great perks, it is no wonder that Norm Coleman didn’t want to leave the Senate. When will he have another job as soft as that one?

  3. As atrocious as this is, with our leaders acting like morelike princes and spending our money wastefully, it is better than having these trips paid for by lobbyists like Jack Abramoff.

    Greedy SOB’s are everywhere. Their percentage in Congress is most likely a bit higher than anywhere else save Wall Street.

  4. Political Game. That is all it is. There is no “ME” in Win and certainly there is a lot of ME in GAME. But the have to have shame.

  5. http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

    That link above provides Congressional pay rates, which is $174,000 annually. Add on excellent health care and other benefits and many of us would salivate over that kind of money. I never in my 37 years ever came within even shouting distance of money like that, in fact the NYC Human Resources Administration’s Commissioner, with 20,000 employees and multi billion$ in funding, only made $145,000 before I retired from that Agency.

    However, neither that Commissioner, nor I had to raise and spend multi million$ at specified time periods to get our jobs. Why do people go through the expense of running and the discomfort of the campaign trail to get these jobs, when a good sales person for a large Corporation can make as much or more? Perhaps there is more than meets the eye beyond ones’ commitment to public service for most of them. The first reason is of course ego and the sense of being in the “in crowd,” but except if one is a raging narcissist (probably only about 30% of Congress), it seems a steep price to pay for the proffered rewards. The truth is of course that they are in it for the money, even if that money’s source is not readily apparent. Most rather than being leaders are some one’s, or some entity’s stooges and are paid well for it in some form or other. There are no doubt some who actually do this out of a sense of purpose, but really we’re talking maybe 15% at most.

    Now as far as the foreign trips are concerned the congress in general has become so used to their exalted status that I really believe they would be shocked that anyone questioned their rights on this. Years in office, with the deference it brings you in some circles and the DC party circuit has bestowed upon them a sense of entitlement and destroyed any sense of shame, or guilt.

  6. BTW, Italy is on the direct route to Afghanistan. I’m sorry you don’t know your geography JT, but them’s the facts. A seven day lay over is necessary because of flight schedules.

    Paul Krugman had an excellent column on the disaster that is our Congress concerning global warming. It should be obvious to anyone that the climate is strange, the evidence for global warming, overwhelming. Yet we have Congresspeople ready to sink the planet on behalf of their donors.

    Likewise, on the financial scene, the majority of both Democratic and Republican members are willing to abandon the poor, working and middle class while again taking steps whose only beneficiaries are their wealthy donors.

    I do not expect sainthood from the president or congresspeople. I know most of them are greedy SOBs intent on gaining power and money. I can live with that. Where there is a lot of money, there is always skim. But the wholesale abandonment of any obligation to our planet and other people besides their donor class, is repulsive.

    It is my contention that we have come to the point of having a parallel govt. which functions only to serve the elite. This govt. acts without regard to the rule of law. It does not even operate under the terms of science, let alone incorporate concerns of social welfare. These people will take us down. I don’t know what the answers are, but we must PEACEFULLY stop them.

  7. This is one of the reasons politicians are so desperate to get re-elected. There is simply no private sector comparison to the perks and benefits these guys get, unless you’re a senior executive somewhere. But Congress is full of less-than-stellar people who couldn’t find their ass with both hands and a map.

    Politics should not be a career. Senators should be limited to 2 terms, and Congressmen/women should be limited to 6 terms.

    However I doubt that even that change would knock sense into these guys. They might take the view “well I’m only here for X years, so I better get it while the getting’s good.” Truly they must be made to suffer somehow.

  8. These politicians are just down right disgusting,they have NO spine to do what the people elected them to do.

    They all talk a “GAME” not even a good one at that.

    If A president can only serve (2) terms why should’nt they be held to the same standard.

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