Read the Bills Act Coalition

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

http://thecontemporaryconservative.blogspot.com
After chiding CEOs for the use of corporate jets Congressional leaders once again use the age old practice of Do as I say, not as I do. Cut waste and costs before raising taxes...jets maybe, these jets are a little excessive. From Rollcall:

Last year, lawmakers excoriated the CEOs of the Big Three automakers for traveling to Washington, D.C., by private jet to attend a hearing about a possible bailout of their companies. ...But apparently Congress is not philosophically averse to private air travel: At the end of July, the House approved nearly $200 million for the Air Force to buy three elite Gulfstream jets for ferrying top government officials and Members of Congress....The Air Force had asked for one Gulfstream 550 jet (price tag: about $65 million) as part of an ongoing upgrade of its passenger air service. ....But the House Appropriations Committee, at its own initiative, added to the 2010 Defense appropriations bill another $132 million for two more airplanes and specified that they be assigned to the D.C.-area units that carry Members of Congress, military brass and top government officials....Because the Appropriations Committee viewed the additional aircraft as an expansion of an existing Defense Department program, it did not treat the money for two more planes as an earmark, and the legislation does not disclose which Member had requested the additional money......An Appropriations Committee staffer said the military was already planning to replace its passenger fleet, and the committee “looked at the request and decided they should speed up the replacement.”...The Gulfstream G550 is a luxury business jet, which the company advertises as featuring long-range flight capacity that “easily links Washington, D.C., with Dubai, London with Singapore and Tokyo with Paris.” The company’s promotional materials say, “The cabin aboard the G550 combines productivity with exceptional comfort. It features up to four distinct living areas, three temperature zones, a choice of 12 floor plan configurations with seating for up to 18 passengers.” ...The version Gulfstream sells to the military is reconfigured for the government with modest accommodations, not the luxury version sold to private customers, said a source familiar with the planes. ...Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) had submitted a request to the Appropriations Committee for a $70 million earmark for one airplane on behalf of Georgia-based Gulfstream, and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) lists the airplane as one of the earmarks that he was asked to request, though his office said he never made the request to the Appropriations Committee....“The committee saw fit to fund it at that level” without Kingston’s involvement, his spokesman said. ..Bishop’s office did not return several calls requesting comment for this story. ..Air Force spokesman Vincent King told Roll Call: “This line item provides funding to purchase C-37 aircraft. The C-37 is the military variant of the commercial Gulfstream 550 executive jet. C-37s provide executive airlift for senior U.S. government officials including Congress and combatant commanders.” ...Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said if Congress wants to buy new jets for the comfort of top government officials, “I think that all needs to be justified on the merits. ... Certainly, lawmakers can fly — and many do fly — coach and business class.” While there may be reasons for flying on top-notch private jets, “it shouldn’t just be squeezed into the bill.” ...Ellis said the airplanes are also part of a larger trend for the Appropriations Committee to simply decide that big-ticket items are program increases, not earmarks, so they require less public disclosure. ...The more that you push for transparency, the more of this stuff goes underneath the carpet,” Ellis said. While Congress has established new rules requiring greater transparency for earmarks, the Appropriations Committee is “the judge, jury and executioner over what is an earmark and what isn’t and how much information we get.”






Read Here: http://www.rollcall.com/media/37552-1.html

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