Were They Outraged?Â Or Jealous?
by Marilyn Mackenzie
Remember when Congress was supposedly outraged when car manufacturing executives showed up in Washington in their private jets?Â Remember that?Â Perhaps they weren't really outraged, but jealous.Â It appears that, more and more, they are using Air Force jets and now they have ordered $500 million in jets more than the Air Force requested to accommodate their own travel.Â Hmmm.
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When asked about the addition, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the military generally frowns upon any appropriations that are above and beyond what is asked for.Â
"We ask for what we need and only what we need," he said.Â
He said when the military is funded above the requested level for any project, it generally comes at the expense of some other item in the budget.Â He said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is more focused, though, on making sure other more "big-ticket" items do not get over-funded.Â
Tom Fitton, president of the watchdog group Judicial Watch, said members of Congress are abusing the military by using their jets too often for travel. He said that except for trips to war zones, members should fly commercial and expense it. He surmised the latest funding for more jets reflects members' personal interest in being able to fly in style.Â
"Congress wants to be ferried around as if they're kings and queens and they want to do it on taxpayer dime," he said.Â
Lawmakers also funded unrequesteded C-17 cargo jets, a controversial new presidential helicopter fleet, and an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Why do our politicians think they deserve to be toted around on government jets?Â Why do they insist on spending money we don't have for things we don't need?Â Because they can.Â Because they know that we have not been calling them on their outrageous expenditures.Â That has to stop.