Members of Congress get rich on travel through huge per diems

posted at 10:11 am on August 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

After getting a hailstorm of criticism for its plans to buy more private jets for its own members, Congress has moved to dump the new Gulfstream orders it included in the 2010 budget bill.  However, as John Fund reports for the Wall Street Journal, that actually was the milder travel scandal to come out of this session.  Travel junkets have become wildly popular with members of Congress not just for the lure of travel, but because taxpayers provide these politicians with hefty per diems while traveling.  Some lawmakers can pocket up to $3,000 a trip in cash, thanks to a system that doesn’t require itemization and rarely demands refunds of unused cash:

The total cost for congressional overseas travel is never made public because the price tag for State Department advance teams and military planes used by lawmakers are folded into much larger budgets. Members of Congress must only report the total per diem reimbursements they receive in cash for hotels, meals and local transport.

They don’t have to itemize expenses—a convenient arrangement since most costs are covered by the government or local hosts. Some trips subtract some hotel and meal costs from the per diems, others do not. “The policy is completely inconsistent,” one House member told me. Total per diem allowances (per person, including staff) can top $3,000 for a single trip. Unused funds are supposed to be given back to the government, but congressional records show that rarely happens. …

The House’s official handbook requires that lawmakers use regular U.S. airlines “whenever possible, unless such service is not reasonably available.” But congressional records show members routinely take military planes to London, Paris and other well-served locales. Members can fly for free with their spouses on military aircraft.

Guess who is the worst offender of the latter?

You’d think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be wise to the poor symbolism of a jet-setting Congress. But she’s part of the problem. No one objects to her ability to fly on a government jet from time to time. But last March the watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained embarrassing internal Pentagon correspondence: “Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?” one such email read. “[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case.’”

Other emails show intermediaries for Mrs. Pelosi frustrated when told transportation demands couldn’t be met. “It is my understanding there are no [Gulfstream] 5’s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable . . . The speaker will want to know where the planes are,” wrote aide Kay King. In a separate email, when told a certain type of aircraft wouldn’t be available, Ms. King wrote, “This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset Speaker.” A Pelosi spokesman said the Judicial Watch report seemed to be based on “a few emails.”

Yeah.  And Watergate was based on a few tapes, Nancy.

No wonder Arlen Specter griped about not getting a bonus for meeting with his constituents.  He could have been jet-setting to the Caymans on a fact-finding mission on financial markets, while generating a good chunk of per diem cash to stuff into a bank there.  Instead, he had to fly first class back to Pennsylvania to have his constituents yell at him while not getting a couple of thou in cash.

Time to kick out the crooks again, and this time elect people who will put in place an expense-report system that accounts for the cash spent on junkets.  I suspect they’ll become a lot less popular when members of Congress can’t suck money out of the taxpayer and into their personal bank accounts.


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In Pelosi’s defense, once you have traveled in a G5, every other private jet feels like a cattle car.

And who are you proles to be questioning our leaders?

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 10:59 AM

It’s time for a constitutional convention. Term limits and no pay or benefit increases without a vote of the people.

Basket Case on August 12, 2009 at 10:59 AM

What an opportunity for Republicans. A simple GOP platform for basic, common sense congressional ethics:

1) complete transparency and reporting of all expenses
2) all laws passed by congress apply to congress as well
3) retirement benefits are the equivalent of the average in their state/district
4) all contact with lobbyists be open and reported

Just to name a few off the top of my head.

There is a real populist anger out there that can be focused on throwing out the Dems but not if the GOP doesn’t quit acting like Dems.

chromium on August 12, 2009 at 10:39 AM

How about this one:

Tie all Congressional staff and travel budgets to the federal budget. If the budget is in deficit, every member of Congress has their staff and travel budget cut.

My Congressman represents one county and a tiny sliver of another one. Yet he has three district offices. His Republican predecessor had only one. Two of them are nothing more than taxpayer-financed campaign billboards with his name on them, but there are paid staffers sitting in them 5 days a week. I’m getting craploads of franked mail from him all the time. I would love to know how much all this “normal” stuff costs, even without the travel and per diem. I can find out his staff’s salaries, but I can’t find out how much the taxpayers are paying for his three offices or his travel to and from Washington.

rockmom on August 12, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Not all canidates believe this is the way it should be and oddly enough, some of us even believe that there should be term limits.

That being said, the only way I think you will ever see term limits added is through a constitutional convention being called by the states and even then, it would be rough to get 75% of them to agree.

TKSnider on August 12, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Was the $90,000 they found at William “Cold Cash” Jefferson’s house just “freezer per diem”?

Bread and Circuses on August 12, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Some lawmakers can pocket up to $3,000 a trip in cash, thanks to a system that doesn’t require itemization and rarely demands refunds of unused cash

They should have to use something like the system DoD uses, which is called the Defense Travel System (DTS). We have to have prior authorization to do anything, to include purchase plane tickets, rent a car, get off-post lodging/meals, airport parking, excess baggage, you name it. Then when we get back off of our trips, we have to file an itemized voucher accompanied with scanned receipt (excepting food and gas, so long as it’s below a certain amount). It’s a pain, but it certainly keeps honest people honest. Why Congress doesn’t do this, frankly, is because Congress’ boss hasn’t cared (or known about it) before. We the People, with the help of a free press, really should consider taking on our responsibility to hold Congress and the President accountable. We’re failing in our duties.

Send_Me on August 12, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Per diem abuse, you got to love it. Those scamps in Congress.

Mr. Joe on August 12, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Yet another story that will go…nowhere. Wake me when the revolution starts.
ClassicCon on August 12, 2009

Yep….wanna know why? Look around you. Do you think any of your fellows really care what government does or how it is functioning? Or are the latest results of Dancing With the Stars the dominant “news”?

I wouldn’t hold your breath on that revolution, just be prepared for the constitution anf federalism to go quietly in to the night.

Goodeye_Closed on August 12, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Cut their healthcare, retirement, travel and other perks and we may not need term limits.
Johan Klaus on August 12, 2009 at 10:37 AM

So true, but of course it will snow in hell before they cut any perks. On the other hand, term limits would only work if you also term limited the thousands of legislative staffers who really run the godawful place.

TXUS on August 12, 2009 at 11:04 AM

This certainly explains how someone can run for office as a pauper and leave office a millionaire. This is not the only place they can increase their wealth at taxpayers expense. Every member of the House and Senate should have to publish their tax returns, every year for their constituents to review, and note where every single penney comes from after they take office. They serve at our pleasure, yet they treat us like unpaid servants. The arrogance is mind numbing.

24K lady on August 12, 2009 at 11:05 AM

This really chaps my hide. Pelosi’s egregious abuses of power are mounting by the day. She needs to step down. As for the rest of the opportunistic jerks in our government, there needs to be rules enacted to stop the abuse of taxpayer funds. We taxpayers work 224 days of the year to pay for our government – that’s more days than Congress is in session.
It’s time to control the spending.

Ripley on August 12, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Congressional perks are many, and not many are well known. Did you know, for example, that since every congressman is required to have residence in their home state, that any rent, utilities, food costs, and automotive costs associated with doing their jobs in DC are all tax deductible? The Navy’s SSBN force also uses this loophole on a regular basis (we call it the “boomer deduction”). The philosophy is, in general, the same. Since the job requires that you basically maintain two residences, one your home, and two, your home away from home. It allows SSBN (which has two crews) sailors to deduct living expenses, when the other crew has command of the ship, since they cannot live on the ship when the other crew has it, therefore, they are forced by their job to maintain off ship housing.

RonD504 on August 12, 2009 at 11:07 AM

In Pelosi’s defense, once you have traveled in a G5, every other private jet feels like a cattle car.

And who are you proles to be questioning our leaders?

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 10:59 AM

You need to learn to put a “sarc” tag, or be more explicit in your sarcasm.
What you posted is very similar to what liberal trolls actually post.
So I will assume you are a liberal idiot troll, since you don’t have the common sense to realize how to post.

right2bright on August 12, 2009 at 11:08 AM

If Obama had any guts he’d demand this despicable woman’s resignation. She’s the botoxed version of Marie Antoinette (comparison stolen from some article but I don’t remember whose).

scalleywag on August 12, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Do these scumballs understand yet that what they’ve done by waking the sleeping giant is to put each one under a microscope.
Pelosi is defintely the one with the worse smell but there was an article in the paper here about travel for two of our congressmen. One took an outrageous trip to the South Pole, or some such destination that included scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. He was studying global warming or some bull shit.
These idiots are not royals and they ceretainly are not too bright.

ORconservative on August 12, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Cut their healthcare, retirement, travel and other perks and we may not need term limits.

Johan Klaus on August 12, 2009 at 10:37 AM
WINNING POST!

Why not just make them subject to the same medical and retirement programs the American public must depend on?

Conservatism would absolutely DOMINATE government leadership if they adopted the philosophy of a shared fate with the American people. Sadly, that’s not the case today.

Americans have a good sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. As an example, everybody know’s that Jim Crow was a bad thing. Separate but (supposedly) equal is exactly what the liberals believe is their right to impose on the sheeple in this country.

The information campaign to stop the liberal agenda has to be based on simple yet profound truth. As long as the fate of the American people isn’t shared with our elected officials then what incentive will force them to do the right thing?

Every conservative should demand that congress include language which makes participation in any health care law mandatory. This demand should be made to every representative and senator regardless of party affiliation. It should be demanded at every townhall, in every piece of correspondence, whenever anyone calls a radio personality, put on protest signs and flyers.

If the Republicans are smart (and I have lot’s of reasons to doubt this) they would immediately adopt this philosophy of shared fate with the American people. Demand that any health care and Social Security reform includes a provision that makes congressional participation mandatory. This would provide the incentive to reduce cost, encourage competition, ensure solvency, and ultimately improve quality.

Are House Republicans again willing to camp out in the dark until this happens? Where is the leadership and perseverance to take momentum from our adversaries? I tell you what, you tell me you’re gonna do it and I’ll come to D.C. and camp out with you.

DGagnon on August 12, 2009 at 11:11 AM

When you can vote yourself money, why wouldn’t you? Scruples are for saps.
Power. Perks. Profit.

SKYFOX on August 12, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Every member of the House and Senate should have to publish their tax returns, every year for their constituents to review, and note where every single penny comes from after they take office.

24K lady on August 12, 2009 at 11:05 AM

One of the points of this article is that they can pocket lots of pennies and the IRS and their constituents will never know the better.

Oh, but they wouldn’t do that! /sarc

Shy Guy on August 12, 2009 at 11:12 AM

They should have to itemize their expenses and live within some limits like the rest of us.

term-limits-4-all on August 12, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Clean house and throw the bums out.

Hening on August 12, 2009 at 11:16 AM

This sounds like a CULTURE OF CORRUPTION.

Is Michelle going to write a sequel next year with all of Obama’s new scandals?

daryl_herbert on August 12, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Where is Dan Rostenkowski when you need him!! He was the master of taking taxpayers money for personal use. I guess he did get caught dipping his hand in the “taxpayer money jar” once to often!

Dawg Pound on August 12, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Are they taxed on the per diem that they pocket? If not get the IRS involved.

txmomof6 on August 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Would someone come up with an action that can be taken?
suzyk on August 12, 2009

There will be a rally in Washington DC on September 12….be there.

Who could ignore or call this rally astroturf if one million people showed up. For $300-$500 you could fly round trip and be home that evening. Or you could ask Nancy for a ride.

Goodeye_Closed on August 12, 2009 at 11:20 AM

It’s time for a constitutional convention. Term limits and no pay or benefit increases without a vote of the people.

Basket Case on August 12, 2009 at 10:59 AM

In response to Basket Case: I think in addition, that the pension they get should also be reduced or eliminated altogether….where do you know you can work for a short time and be guaranteed a $65,000 plus pension for the rest of your life?? I want that!! I am a newbie so go easy!!

RoxanneH on August 12, 2009 at 11:21 AM

Goodeye – Sooooo tempting

txmomof6 on August 12, 2009 at 11:22 AM

right2bright- Thanks for the mostly constructive criticism on my comment. Since this was my first post, I did not realize that I needed to tag my comment as sarcasm. Nor am I clear on how to tag my comment.

And I thought my sarcasm was pretty evident. Apparently not. I will work on that.

Finally, I don’t know how to reply directly to a particular comment. Hopefully, I will figure that one out soon.

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 11:26 AM

From her heavn’ly throne
When Nancy lowers her gaze,
We all look like ants

Haiku Guy on August 12, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Where is Dan Rostenkowski when you need him!! He was the master of taking taxpayers money for personal use. I guess he did get caught dipping his hand in the “taxpayer money jar” once to often!

Dawg Pound on August 12, 2009

That paragon of virtue will always be remembered for stealing furniture. Looks good on ya, Danny. What’s that sizzling noise?

SKYFOX on August 12, 2009 at 11:27 AM

the \sarc tag is overused. Most avid readers and educated people know sarcasm when they see it. Right2bright obviously recognized it too.

Goodeye_Closed on August 12, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Why aren’t the Huff Pukes covering this?

RobCon on August 12, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Are they taxed on the per diem that they pocket? If not get the IRS involved.

txmomof6 on August 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM
___________________________________________________________

Silly txmomof6 – they don’t pay taxes at all – didn’t the Cabinet nominations clue you in to that? That’s why dems are always trying to raise taxes – it doesn’t effect them personally!!
And let’s not forget who’s in charge of the IRS – Turbotax Timmy – even HE doesn’t pay his taxes!

Ripley on August 12, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Finally, I don’t know how to reply directly to a particular comment. Hopefully, I will figure that one out soon.

Bru on August 12, 2009

I think most of us recognized your sarcasm. A /sarc tag does help for those who don’t. The key around here is to not take harsh criticism seriously. Remember, the critics are as anonymous as you are and their opinions are worth exactly what you paid for them. Yes, mine too.

SKYFOX on August 12, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Finally, I don’t know how to reply directly to a particular comment. Hopefully, I will figure that one out soon.

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Edit and copy the remark. Highlight quote and hit quote button. Then put your comment below.

Disturb the Universe on August 12, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Are they taxed on the per diem that they pocket? If not get the IRS involved.

txmomof6 on August 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Would that be the same IRS whose cabinet level secretary is filled with an unrepentent tax cheat? Lotsa luck with that.

highhopes on August 12, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Time to kick out the crooks again, and this time elect people who will put in place an expense-report system that accounts for the cash spent on junkets.

In the ancient Roman Republic (“before the dark times, before the Empire”**), the consuls and other officials could be expected to be audited when their term of office was over, to see if the public monies had been misused. It was regular and expected–and was a means the Senate used to make sure that their colleagues who were consuls realized that the term was for one year only, and that they shouldn’t get too high and mighty–because you never knew what an audit would turn up…I leave it to the reader to see the parallels to today, where ethics investigations have become more political tool than ethical one.

Checks and balances are the beauty of the American system, a Newtonian balance of forces that has gone askew, in part because Congress is now often in the mode of trying to be a second Executive branch (especially if White House and Congress are split between parties). We need a new check upon the Congress and upon government in general. I believe that a third political body–to be called the Tribunate–should be created for the Federal government, a body whose responsibilities will include ethics investigations of Congressmen, as well as general investigations on non-legislative issues of other branches of government.

In this sense, it will serve as the Tribunes of the Republic did–champions of the people against a political patriarchy, insuring that the mechanisms of government are being used for the commonweal and not the gain of any particular faction. Its membership would come from the states (either appointed by state legislatures, or from state-level tribunate bodies, with approval by the people, thus allowing state governments a means to have a check on Washington, a means lost when the Senate went to popular elections). Popular election is also a possibility, especially for reappointment to term. Its members will not be able to serve in other executive or legislative positions for ten years after leaving the Tribunate (to prevent ethics investigations in the Tribunate from being used as a stepping stone for higher office. A similar rule should be used for District Attorneys, incidentally).

As in the days of ancient Rome, members of the Tribunate would be able to stop any executive branch of government for a temporary period of time (the word “veto”–”I forbid”–comes from the ancient tribunes), so as to ascertain if the mechanisms of government are being used unjustly and arbitrarily, or if the government is not following the law. The temporary hold could be made permanent upon vote of the entire Tribunate.

This would give common people somewhere else to turn besides their Congressmen–who, as we have recently have seen with the reluctance of Representatives to hold town halls, might have political motivations for not helping a constituent fully. The Tribune, being appointed for a sufficiently long period of time, will not have this problem. The Tribunate is the means for the people to have standing to challenge violations of the Constitution on a routine basis, and is a means to get the courts out of the business of being tribunes themselves and back to resolution of clear conflicts of the law. Essentially, the Tribunate takes over the roles the courts currently do in issuing writs of mandamus and restraining orders against the government—but with the benefit of being popularly appointed, accountable to the people, and most importantly—not requiring a outlay of monies by the people for a lawyer. The mechanisms of the courts would still exist as a second layer of defense, but the courts could get back to their primary role.

The Tribunate should also have the ability to overturn Supreme Court rulings by a 75% majority, as a check on a body that was never intended to have the power it has by the original architects. The Supreme Court is the only political institution in the Constitution that does not have a direct democratic check on it. Congress can directly check the President, and President can directly check the Congress, but both cannot directly check the Supreme Court. The only means to check the court is via the very indirect means of the appointment process, and the very lengthy means of the amendment process, which involves the states. The problem being that when the Court makes a decision fundamentally at odds with the American populace, as in Kelso, the inability to resolve the conflict leads only to the system being viewed as imperial and illegitimate. A Tribunate able to override the Court would restore balance, harmony, and the notion that popular sovereignity resides in the people, not the Court nor Congress.

With a Tribunate added, the makeup of the American Federal system would be thus: Congress legislates the laws and appropriates; Executive branch executes the laws; Judicial branch resolves conflicts with the laws; and the Tribunate insures the laws are being followed by the government itself and serves as the ambassadors of the people and states to their government.

**One can make a case that, based upon the dysfunction of the Roman Republic from 100 BC to the rise of Augustus as princeps, that the Empire was probably a good and not an evil, as no better form of governance may have been possible.

Horatius on August 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Congress had the nerve to be all upset about the Car Ex flying to Washington? Congress is just as guilty, or even worse since they are elected by common people who have to take the bus, train or drive.

Bikerchick on August 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM

“Time to kick out the crooks again, and this time elect people who will put in place an expense-report system that accounts for the cash spent on junkets.”

Congress should be held to all the same laws they issue for us peons, not to mention the laws and rules they issue for the administrative bureacracy.

Dusty on August 12, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Finally, I don’t know how to reply directly to a particular comment. Hopefully, I will figure that one out soon.

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 11:26 AM
Edit and copy the remark. Highlight quote and hit quote button. Then put your comment below.

Disturb the Universe on August 12, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Disturb, thanks for information. Much appreciated.

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Ms Pelosi,

It’s time to put your own words back to work, but apply them to yourself, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, and the rest of the lefty loons trying to spend this country into bankruptcy.

“When Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi took the Gavel to become the first woman Speaker of the House she stated that in her first one hundred days she would, “Drain the Swamp” from nearly ten years of the Republican, “Culture of Corruption”. She had another thing to say In her speech, that “It Just Might Take a Woman to Clean The House” of ethics violations perpetrated by the Republicans.”

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/nancy-pelosi-draining-swamp-or-sandbagging-house-0

Speaking of the “Culture of Corruption”, there’s a new book out of the same name you really should read. Hint: it’s on the NY Times Best Seller List.

Sweet_Thang on August 12, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Disturb, thanks for information. Much appreciated.

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 11:40 AM

No problem. Welcome on board.

Disturb the Universe on August 12, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Bru on August 12, 2009 at 11:26 AM

For sarcasm use one of the following: /s or /sarc

For responding
1) copy the section and who posted
2) click on quote
3) paste
4) click on quote.

chemman on August 12, 2009 at 11:49 AM

One of the worst practices of all time is automatic deduction of taxes from people’s paychecks.

Imagine if people had to actually write a check for their income tax, realizing for what the money was being used.

It angers me that my taxes, which are actually the hours that I put in at work, are going to these royal vermin.

A tax revolt is what is needed. Individuals and businesses need to stop feeding the bloated pig that our government has become.

justltl on August 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM

“Can you imagine the media frenzy if a Republican Speaker of the House had done this?”

They would be frothing at the mouth if it was a Republican. Chrissy M. would have to get a rabies shot!

Dawg Pound on August 12, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Disturb, seems I’ve been quoting the hard. Learn something new everyday here.

chemman on August 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM

There will be a rally in Washington DC on September 12….be there.

The Left seems to becomes extremely nervous whenever their ideological opponents hold demonstrations. The lefties I work with were checking the MSNBC website hourly on the day the first tea parties were held to see how large these rallies were. (Unfortunately for them the reporting was simply MSNBC’s opinion.)

A massive march on Washington by a courteous but determined gathering of citizens is the best thing we can do to show this country how concerned we are. If there is a march in September 12 I will be there!

cavman on August 12, 2009 at 11:54 AM

The GOP had its first shot in 1994 and blew it. Then, with the election of W in 2000, and a majority in Congress, the GOP had an opportunity to govern as real Republicans…and did with tax cuts, didn’t on some other issues. Now, the GOP is being provided a rare THIRD chance in one generation to get it right by running candidates in 2010 that will actually govern as they campaign. Stay tuned…

JimWriter on August 12, 2009 at 11:56 AM

How about:
Term limits (two terms Senate, three terms House)
NO retirement benefits.
NO secret lobbying.
NO earmarks
Travel expenses itemized and checked.
NO excessive fact finding travel.
Read all bills before voting.

We’ve got to cut out the career politicians from their golden goose at taxpayer expense. They are ruining the country.

Christian Conservative on August 12, 2009 at 11:56 AM

There’s always lots of talk of armed revolution. It’s viscerally satisfying to fantasize about such things. But we all know that, for now at least, it’s just that- a fantasy.

But picture the power and possibilities of a tax revolt, where a significant number of individuals, businesses and corporations stop paying taxes as of a certain date, say April 15, 2011.

That’s my fantasy.

justltl on August 12, 2009 at 12:01 PM

I have no problem with them using military planes as long as they parachute out of them.

LevStrauss on August 12, 2009 at 12:04 PM

But picture the power and possibilities of a tax revolt, where a significant number of individuals, businesses and corporations stop paying taxes as of a certain date, say April 15, 2011.
That’s my fantasy.
justltl on August 12, 2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Galt

“who is john Galt”

Goodeye_Closed on August 12, 2009 at 12:05 PM

yesterday we had a poster called “txmomof3″. today i see a “txmomof6″.

please tell me that there is a reasonable explanation to this. har!

kelley in virginia on August 12, 2009 at 12:06 PM

term limits are a good 1st step. then let’s restrict the “open” hours of Congress down to just 2 mos. its harder to screw us in 2 mos than in a whole year.

kelley in virginia on August 12, 2009 at 12:08 PM

This per diem issue is a joke. Having traveled throughout Asia,Europe and the US for Years, following the quide lines of the IRS for business travel, this simply is not possible. When business was down (like a deficit) we traveled overseas in coach. First class domestic was never an option. Something about the stockholders getting upset…………..

Does anyone think that maybe they have a different set of rules than the serfs that pay the bills? (Sarcasim)

1Huckley on August 12, 2009 at 12:18 PM

You’ll have to shoot them. Seriously. There’s no other answer. From whence they came, more will follow.

mr1216 on August 12, 2009 at 12:30 PM

I have no problem with them using military planes as long as they parachute out of them.

…with no backup chute.

Lightswitch on August 12, 2009 at 12:36 PM

This is so common with government employees at all levels. My brother is a life long democrat that worked for HUD and FEMA all his life and would always be pilfering the system through his per diem travel allowance. It made me so sick I thought of dropping a dime on him at times. I know that sounds horrible, but what he was doing was wrong. I just didn’t know who to call that wouldn’t be on the dole as well.

RealThunder on August 12, 2009 at 12:39 PM

This is representative of what the Tea Party movement is all about. We need the input of those in the know, of how we can stop the gravy train that congress has been living on for decades. The founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to build our country. Today’s politicians feather their own nests, make fortunes and HAVE NO SACRED HONOR.

They should be flying commercial when they HAVE to fly, or catch a military plane when it is going their way. Their pay needs to be cut and they need to be told in clear terms that they are in office to serve the public and not soak the public!

Star20 on August 12, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Pelosi is starting to look like Paula Poundstone

Wellstoned on August 12, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Hey, like Arlen Specter said, we’re “lucky” to be able to talk to them in town halls. After all, we pay their six-figure salaries with our five-figure ones.

MadisonConservative on August 12, 2009 at 10:43 AM

If those people re-elect him, then they get what they deserve.

ladyingray on August 12, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Just wait til those guys that filed those ethics complaints against Sarah Palin find out about this!

Oh, nevermind. They are Democrats too. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Sporty1946 on August 12, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Are they taxed on the per diem that they pocket? If not get the IRS involved.

txmomof6 on August 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Good idea. This is usually how you have to take down mobsters – by using the IRS.

Sporty1946 on August 12, 2009 at 12:53 PM

THROW THE BUMS OUT!!!!
there is only one solution to solve the problem of revolving door political party majority corruption…
get rid of the money at the federal level. if the gov’t has no more money to spend, than our elected officials are no longer “that important.” no more will lobbyists come to washington, seeking to “influence” members of congress, if there is no money to be handed out. keep only the important, constitutionally mandated things, such as raising an army and navy.

more money in peoples’ hands er “private sector,” than that is more money to be invested, start-ups, small business, the things that build wealth and create jobs. what an idea!!

and if congress wants to go on a fact-finding mission? have them pay for it out of pocket, and declare it in their taxes. see how much “necessary travel” there is if they have to do that!!

they make me sick…throw the bums out.

photoboy74 on August 12, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Horatius on August 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Wow – love the idea, would it buy another couple of hundred years before it too became a corrupt government entity?

piglet on August 12, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Then when we get back off of our trips, we have to file an itemized voucher accompanied with scanned receipt (excepting food and gas, so long as it’s below a certain amount). It’s a pain, but it certainly keeps honest people honest.

…which is what I had to do after every business trip I ever made in every job I’ve ever had. But God forbid that a legislator traveling on the taxpayer’s dime should be inconvenienced by filling out an expense report.

Owen Glendower on August 12, 2009 at 1:20 PM

People like this used to get tared and feathered and ran out of town on a rail.

TrickyDick on August 12, 2009 at 1:27 PM

right2bright on August 12, 2009 at 11:08 AM

What the hell? Sarc tags are now a requirement?

IMO, if you don’t recognize sarcasm and satire, then you don’t deserve to get the joke.

It’s like telling someone “Hey, I’m going to tell a joke now”. That just ruins the joke for a lot of people.

/sarc

connertown on August 12, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Congressional perks are many, and not many are well known. Did you know, for example, that since every congressman is required to have residence in their home state, that any rent, utilities, food costs, and automotive costs associated with doing their jobs in DC are all tax deductible? The Navy’s SSBN force also uses this loophole on a regular basis (we call it the “boomer deduction”). The philosophy is, in general, the same. Since the job requires that you basically maintain two residences, one your home, and two, your home away from home. It allows SSBN (which has two crews) sailors to deduct living expenses, when the other crew has command of the ship, since they cannot live on the ship when the other crew has it, therefore, they are forced by their job to maintain off ship housing.

RonD504 on August 12, 2009 at 11:07 AM
Hmmm. So why are we only allowed that deduction for 1 year now? But they can use it for ever?

mcmm on August 12, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Horatius on August 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM

…would it buy another couple of hundred years before it too became a corrupt government entity?

piglet on August 12, 2009 at 1:03 PM

Two things–one, the best systems are those that channel the natural base instincts of men into efforts that produce nobler results. This is why the free enterprise is and always will be superior in both morality and efficacy than any other economic system. My Tribunate is by no means a finished product, but yes, the goal is to take into account sufficiently the true nature of man so as to provide self-correcting mechanisms that rely on men being often, as George Washington said, governed by their own interests, and not by grander notions of what is good and what is noble.
Second, having said that–John Adams said that the American constitution was made for the American people, and that it would work for none other, and also that for the Republic to flourish their, at the end of the day, had to be a certain minimum level of virtue in the people. We forget this at our peril, for along that road lies the fate of the Athenian demos.

So the answer to your question is that I actually do think it can get to at least a few hundred years out before decay sets in, and I leave it to posterity to solve the rest of the problem if we today can’t do it for them. After all, what else will they have to do with their time beside starhopping galaxies?

Horatius on August 12, 2009 at 2:16 PM

I have no problem with them using military planes as long as they parachute out of them.
…with no backup chute.

Lightswitch on August 12, 2009 at 12:36 PM

…and both arms filled with bags of $100 bills from the, ahem, “Stimulus Package”.

Now THAT would be stimulating!

Sweet_Thang on August 12, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Take away the Gulfstreams.

Buy them a stable full of gold, horse drawn carriages.
That’s how royalty travels, right?

jeanneb on August 12, 2009 at 2:41 PM

We need to vote these bums out of office! God help us!

MCGIRV on August 12, 2009 at 2:55 PM

I have no problem with them using military planes as long as they parachute out of them.
…with no backup chute.

Lightswitch on August 12, 2009 at 12:36 PM

…and both arms filled with bags of $100 bills from the, ahem, “Stimulus Package”.

Yes, an incremental solution! Sort of like Obamacare in that way, but with much better results.

Lightswitch on August 12, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Term Limits for Congress. An idea whose time has come.

Mallard T. Drake on August 12, 2009 at 3:45 PM

If Obama had any guts he’d demand this despicable woman’s resignation

Are you kidding. They are kindred spirits. he is much, much worse.

proconstitution on August 12, 2009 at 3:57 PM

These people have no shame. I read that Coburn actually gave the money back, like he was supposed to..a rare thing, an honest politician.

Terrye on August 12, 2009 at 4:27 PM

chemman on August 12, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Or you can:
1. Copy
2. Paste
3. Highlight section to be quoted
4. Click “quote”

Send_Me on August 12, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Same article said that there are no less than 11 congressional delegations heading to Germany during the recess. WTF?????????

redfoxbluestate on August 12, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Horatius on August 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Interesting idea, but fatally flawed for all the same reasons the current system is so corrupted. Let me explain.

If you use a popular election to elect the “watchers”, you will simply have another leftist from a leftist state to run cover for his fellow leftists.

If you appoint the “watchers” using the same corrupt politicians who are already running their states into the ground, what have you really changed?

Finally, and most importantly, keep in mind that all the unconstitutional directives that we’re already drowning in (including social security, medicare, the EPA, the dept of education, etc. ad infinitum) occured, and are being perpetuated, by a govt that already has so-called “checks and balances” in place. In other words, the very system that was set up to stop all things unconstitutional is passing mandates that are clearly unconstitutional. All 3 branches of our govt are colluding in this.

And there isn’t one damn thing we can do about it.

runawayyyy on August 12, 2009 at 5:00 PM

The only answer is smaller central government. That’s what the founders intended and thought they were establishing, just as they thought it would be easier to amend the Constitution than it has proven to be.

One reason they wished to avoid a democracy was that they didn’t trust the citizenry to tax the rich to enrich themselves. It has happened despite their intent because of demagoguery and is being extended through the same means.

They knew that this danger existed and knew that it was a risk inherent in any republican form of government. Until and unless the American people understand what’s wrong with this kind of thinking and exercise control over these carpetbaggers, we’re screwed.

flataffect on August 12, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Pfft these members of Congress are amateurs compared to a governor who chooses to live at home rather than in taxpayer-paid accomodations in the state capitol… then claims travel per diem!

benny shakar on August 12, 2009 at 6:31 PM

I’ve said before, two terms for congress, one in government, one in prison.
Horatius, this would only add one more layer of the ENTITLED to a bloated government we can’t afford.

countrybumpkin on August 12, 2009 at 7:19 PM

Are the per diem rules anything new? If not, throw ‘em all out and start over.

exdeadhead on August 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM

That woman needs to be horse whipped.

MB4 on August 12, 2009 at 10:24 PM

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that we need all new electeds in this country. From top to bottom and especially important to root out all the arrogant and condescending members of Congress.

TBenton on August 13, 2009 at 12:13 AM

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time in this Country when politicians knew and abided by the bounds of their offices. Was the system the Framers of our Constitution fatally flawed? No, it worked perfectly for nearly 144 years. Federal spending from the end of Reconstruction in ~1875 through 1917 rarely exceeded 4% of GDP. From 1917 on, spending increases at a near linear rate (with the exception of the war years) to where we are today.
So what changed? The most overlooked, under studied, and under appreciated change made to our system of checks and balance occurred in 1913 – and, though certainly egregious, it wasn’t the establishment of the Federal Reserve, or of the Federal Income Tax. The change that I’m talking about is the 17th Amendment, which mandated that U.S. Senators would no longer be selected by their respective State’s Legislatures and would have to stand for popular election in their home States.
This change fundamentally changed the internal checks and balances within the U.S. Congress. The House was to represent the populace and the Senate, the agenda of the State’s own Government. By making this change, the State Legislatures are relegated to lobbyist status. This is a major reason why Congress passes spending bills with unfunded mandates that have to be funded by the State Governments. Instead of two competing agendas, State vs. Popular, we have Popular v. Popular. Guess what? This results in out of control spending omnibus spending bills with no State imposed sobriety on the resolution committees. This is why the lobbying groups are so powerful in Washington. All of the Reps. and Senators have to run expensive campaigns at home.
The State legislators have no say in this process. In other words, with the Senate in the hands of the populace, we basically have one big House of Representatives- in fact, you could combine the two into one body with little change in results. Lobbyists are empowered through the popular election process.
Were the Senate still in the hands of the State Legislators, it would be very difficult to buy influence across the 50 States, or a majority of them. And, if you can’t effectively lobby one body, it makes little sense to lobby the other.
Contrary to popular belief, the 17th Amendment was adopted not because of Senators being influenced by ‘the rich’, but because of vacancies not being filled due to State Legislature delays in seating Senators.
As John McCain used to like to say, “The system is broken” – I think its one of maybe 5 things that he’s said with which I agree – and I do agree although I don’t think he has a clue as to why it is broken.
It was broken with the passage of the 17th Amendment and it will never be fixable until this is repealed, most likely by State petition through the 5th Amendment, and we return to the system of checks and balances established by the Framers, which was ultimately based on a keen understanding of history and human nature.
So, don’t be distracted by ‘Fair tax’ or ‘end the fed’ – these things need to be addressed, but not until the fundamental problem has been fixed.
Repeal the 17th and re-establish Federalism.
Cheers!

omb on August 13, 2009 at 12:37 AM

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