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Congress Gets an Upgrade – WSJ.com

Eariler in the week, I posted a note about Congress going beyond Air Force requests to buy one new jet for VIP transport fleet by buying two more planes than the Air Force requested. Well, as the Wall Street Journal is reporting, it is worse than just two planes:

Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.

The purchases will help accommodate growing travel demand by congressional officials. The planes augment a fleet of about two dozen passenger jets maintained by the Air Force for lawmakers, administration officials and military chiefs to fly on government trips in the U.S. and abroad.

The congressional shopping list goes beyond what the Air Force had initially requested as part of its annual appropriations. The Pentagon sought to buy one Gulfstream V and one business-class equivalent of a Boeing 737 to replace aging planes. The Defense Department also asked to buy two additional 737s that were being leased.

Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.

The purchases will help accommodate growing travel demand by congressional officials. The planes augment a fleet of about two dozen passenger jets maintained by the Air Force for lawmakers, administration officials and military chiefs to fly on government trips in the U.S. and abroad.

The congressional shopping list goes beyond what the Air Force had initially requested as part of its annual appropriations. The Pentagon sought to buy one Gulfstream V and one business-class equivalent of a Boeing 737 to replace aging planes. The Defense Department also asked to buy two additional 737s that were being leased.

It is exactly this sense of entitlement that is hypocritical on so many levels.

First, as noted, Congress publicly chastised car company CEO’s for flying to Washington on private jets to beg for a bailout. The thing is that at the time the CEO’s were flying, they were using company money, private money subject to their stockholder’s displeasure. What Congress is now spending is taxpayer money for equipment the Air Force doesn’t want, didn’t request and probably has little use for at this point. This is a vanity purchase and the DoD spokesman is right, it is an earmark–nothing more, nothing less.

Second, at a time when Congress is preaching to the common man about his “carbon footprint” and environmental concerns, you have Congress taking private jets all over the world and the country because it is convenient and paid for with taxpayer money. Where is there concern for the environmnet. Oh, that’s right–rules are for hte little people not for the political elite.

Third, $500 million could be spent on something a little more useful militarily or in other realms. The spending is getting nuts and this is just another symbol of how Congress simply doesn’t get the point. At a time when there is talk of a middle class tax hike, they are spending on “elite” perks. It simply is not going to fly with the public.

If you are going to townhall meetings, ask your Congressmen if they voted for this appropriation and ask for a pledge to not use these aircraft. If commerical flying is good for you, it is good for them.






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