Tags: Barack Obama

Taxpayers Flying Coach Class Pay for Politicians in First

Monday, 18 May 2015 09:18 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Paul Gosar is a dentist and he knows something about experiencing excruciating pain while sitting in an unfamiliar chair. But he’s also a Congressman and it’s in that role that he’s introduced the “Coach–Only Airfare for Capitol Hill Act of 2015.”

Passage of the Coach–Only Act will mean senators, congressmen, and other taxpayer potentates can’t use tax dollars to fly in first class.

When I first heard the bill was a bipartisan effort to make elected officials as miserable in the air as the rest of us, I just assumed it was a project designed by two publicity hounds from Delaware who ride the Acela Express home and won’t be affected by the bill in any event.

The only anxiety they feel while riding in the spacious Amtrak lounge is if they notice speed limit signs seem to be going by at an increasingly fast clip. But no!

Republican Gosar is from Arizona and his Democrat co–sponsor, Raul Ruiz, is from California so both of them will be directly and painfully affected by their own legislation. What a concept, and it’s sure to make them pariahs in their respective parties.

(If they want advice on coping Sen. David Vitter is a good place to start. Click here.)

Following Congress and it’s spendy ways makes one so cynical that when I learned Ruiz was also a doctor, I assumed it was of chiropractic since so much other legislation is passed in the interest of self–interest. However, he’s an M.D. and holds the distinction of being one of the few members who actually could make more money doing honest work in the private sector than they make at the public trough.

I know something about elected officials cluttering up first class, since I once loaned Sen. Orrin Hatch my copy of Newsweek. I don’t know for certain how he landed beside me, but I have my suspicions.

Hatch didn’t return the magazine but I will give him credit for not attempting to “listen” to my everyday American concerns while I was trapped next to him. God help me if it had been Hillary going through one of her must–look–human–for–voters periods.

The prime motivators for legislators flying in first are extra legroom, free meals, attentive stewardess, and free booze. But an often-overlooked benefit is the vastly reduced chance of being pinned next to the window with a taxpayer that wants to have an honest conversation on race.

Regardless of the motive, Gosar wants to end the practice permanently, “Elected leaders must be judicious in the travel expenses that are paid for with federal funds. Luxury airfare accommodations utilizing taxpayer monies would be inappropriate in any fiscal climate, but at a time of soaring deficits and with a federal debt in excess of $18 trillion, such expenditures are especially wasteful.”

If  Congress wants to fly in first class they can do so like the rest of us. Hope the angel of the upgrade lands on his shoulder when he checks in or he can pay extra, out of his own pocket, for the privilege. I’m hoping the bill also includes language prohibiting the use of “don’t you know who I am?” at the ticket counter.

Gosar and Ruiz have gained positive publicity — this column for instance — but the chances of the bill coming to a vote, much less passing are vanishingly remote.

House Speaker John Boehner controls the agenda in the House and he would rather attend a TEA Party conference than bring this bill to the floor. Most members are under the delusion they’ve made sacrifices to be in Congress. Paying for first class airfare is the least penny–pinching voters can do in return.

And as Washington Post “fact checkers” explain, in the unlikely event of passage it won’t save money: “Each member of Congress gets a base allowance for travel. The allowance would not be cut; the proposed law will only require that lawmakers could not spend it on first-class fare.”

I foresee a travel frenzy to make sure the entire travel allowance is spent before the fiscal year ends. Towns that haven’t seen a Member of Congress in this century will be shooing them off the sidewalk with brooms so the residents can get by.

The only downside to the legislation is exposure to coach flying may inspire some eager–beaver elected official to reform the industry. Airlines would be required to have direct flights from every Congressional hometown to Reagan National.

Instead of buying individual tickets, consumers would buy gold, silver or bronze travel plans that are distinguished by the number of miles covered, the level of security scrutiny undergone at the airport and the deductible paid before boarding. Call it Obamacare in the Air.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports —
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The prime motivators for legislators flying in first are extra legroom, free meals, attentive stewardess, and free booze. But an often-overlooked benefit is the vastly reduced chance of being pinned next to the window with a taxpayer.
Barack Obama
Monday, 18 May 2015 09:18 AM
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