The 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.