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Archive for July 5th, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has some of the grimy details about politicians vacationing (oops, I mean taking junkets) at taxpayer expense. Pelosi and Reid must be running a tight ship, since junkets have “only” climbed by 50 percent since the Democrats took over:

Spending by lawmakers on taxpayer-financed trips abroad has risen sharply in recent years, a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records shows… The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That’s a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago. …The Journal analysis, based on information published in the Congressional Record, also shows that taxpayer-funded travel is a big and growing perk for lawmakers and their families. …Although complete travel records aren’t yet available for 2009, it appears that such costs continue to rise. The Journal analysis shows that the government has picked up the tab for travel to destinations such as Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Lawmakers frequently bring along spouses on congressional trips. If they take commercial flights, they have to buy tickets for spouses. If they fly on government planes — as they usually do — their spouses can fly free. …In mid-June, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii) led a group of a half-dozen senators and their spouses on a four-day trip to France for the biennial Paris Air Show. An itinerary for the event shows that lawmakers flew on the Air Force’s version of the Boeing 737, which costs $5,700 an hour to operate. They stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel, which advertises rooms from $460 a night. …Often, lawmakers combine trips to war zones with visits to more tranquil spots. In February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation of Democratic lawmakers to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan for a day. Before landing in Kabul, the eight lawmakers and their entourage of spouses and aides spent eight days in Italy, spending $57,697 on hotels and meals. …The Air Force maintains a fleet of 16 passenger planes for use by lawmakers.

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Blogging may be light in the next few days. I am in Georgia, but not the state of my beloved Bulldogs. Instead, I am looking at snow-capped peaks two hours north of Tbilisi in the nation of Georgia. I’m here to present a series of seminars for the New Economic School, the excellent free-market think tank that has helped transform Georgia into a free-market success strory (notwithstanding bumps in the road such as a Russian invasion last year).

The bus trip from Tbilisi to the mountains was interesting, featuring stops for cows, goats, and people, all of whom viewed the road as a convenient path. We also took our bathroom break at the site of a 12th Century fortress. Impressive, to say the least. I should be able to post something each day.

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