Private jets: Price’s expensive habit
“Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, is a longtime proponent of slashing entitlements,” said The New York Times in an editorial. “He might consider starting with his own.” Politico.com reported last week that the former Republican congressman has used a taxpayer-funded private jet at least 26 times since May, at an eye-popping cost of $400,000. Price wasn’t journeying to remote lands—he was flying to cities, such as San Diego and Nashville, that are extensively served by commercial airlines. On one trip, Price took a private jet to the glamorous Aspen Ideas Festival— a leisurely 19 hours before his speaking slot. He even spent an estimated $25,000 flying the 150 miles between Washington and Philadelphia, when “an Amtrak ticket could have been had for less than $100.” The flights are now under investigation by his department’s inspector general, and Price has agreed to travel commercial until that review is complete.
Even for conservatives who support this administration, Price’s behavior is “indefensible,” said Guy Benson in Townhall.com. The guy claimed to be a “fiscal hawk.” Can you imagine the howls of outrage from the Right if Obama’s Cabinet secretaries had wasted taxpayer money jetting around like Hollywood stars? President Trump won the election by promising to stick up for the little guy, said Philip Wegmann in WashingtonExaminer.com. So Price’s flagrant profligacy feels like “an insult to everyone who punched the GOP ticket.”
“In normal, non-bizarro America,” the HHS secretary would have to resign, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe. But in Trump’s administration, “feeding from the government trough” is so commonplace that America’s outrage meter is broken. Price was confirmed by the Senate even after it emerged he had voted on, sponsored, and “actively lobbied” for legislation that could directly affect more than $300,000 in healthcare stocks he owned. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is under departmental investigation over his “frequent travel home to Oklahoma.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin even requested a military jet to ferry him and his wife around Europe on their honeymoon. Then, of course, there’s the president himself, who is blatantly profiting off the foreign officials who stay at his overpriced hotel in Washington and the federal officials who stay at his Mar-a-Lago and golf resorts. “‘Draining the Swamp’ has been replaced by ‘Let’s Frolic in the Swamp.’”