The man really, really wants to keep his job. So much so that he’s prepared to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of his private jet flights this year, an amount according to Politico that exceeds $400,000.
But wait. He’s not reimbursing the feds for the full cost of the flights, even though he’s the official whose travel needs were served by them. He’s reimbursing them only for the cost of his *seat*. What?
Where does this leave us, by the way, on the “Price is flying private because liberals might try to kill him for trying to repeal ObamaCare” defense? Evidently he’s not too worried about it. He’s flying commercial from now on.
NEW Price statement on private flights: says he'll stop taking them and reimburse gov for the ones he took already. Not resigning (yet) pic.twitter.com/CnV2FH9VeB
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) September 28, 2017
How much did his “seat” cost on these 20+ trips, which continued even after Politico’s first story about his private-jet use was published? Around one-eighth of the total cost of the flights per Price’s calculations:
NEW: Senior HHS source says that HHS secretary Tom Price will specifically pay $51,887.31 over useage of a private plane.
— Fin Gomez (@finnygo) September 28, 2017
I assume he received some assurance from Trump before this announcement that he’d keep his job if he repents. It’d be silly to make this semi-expensive gesture only to have POTUS send him packing anyway. Trump is understandably irritated by the entire episode:
Some Trump advisers are urging Trump to get rid of Price, according to three people familiar with the conversations…
White House officials said Trump was shocked by Price’s behavior, especially because he nurtured a reputation as a fiscal conservative during his time as a House lawmaker…
The president is annoyed with cable news coverage of Price’s travel, one of these people said. “He goes, ‘Why did he do this? It makes no sense,’” the official said.
That’s true, it never did, but until today Price and the department maintained that he’d done nothing wrong, that private-jet use by government officials is perfectly legal. If you’re looking for reasons to believe Trump might push him out, Axios notes that Price and POTUS have never hit it off personally and that Trump is still miffed at him for having promised earlier this year that ObamaCare would be successfully repealed. “I’m not saying the president will fire him but at the very least he doesn’t care if he resigns,” said one source. Presumably Price isn’t thinking of resigning; if he were, he’d head directly to the exit instead of cutting taxpayers a check. But now that repeal seems dead again (for awhile), maybe he’ll conclude that the job isn’t worth the bother. Especially since he no longer has his very own personal charter plane paid for by the U.S. public at his beck and call.
Here he is earlier today telling he reporters he “thinks” he still has the confidence of the president. That’s probably not true, but seemingly half of Trump’s deputies no longer have his confidence and yet they remain on the job — Sessions, Tillerson, Gary Cohn, you name it. The prospect of an ugly confirmation fight for his replacement with ObamaCare’s fate still unsettled may be all Price needs to remain in place. In lieu of an exit question, read BuzzFeed on Price wanting to reopen an “executive dining room” at HHS earlier this year. He knows the administration he works for is nominally populist, right?