Isn’t it nice that mere taxpayers, who overwhelmingly ride in the steerage section, are paying for bureaucrats to go on first-class and business-class junkets around the world? It’s “only” a $13-billion burden, so let’s not hear any complaints from the galley slaves! The Washington Times has the details:
…taxpayers spent $2.8 billion in 2009 just on hotel rooms for federal employees, an amount that ensured bureaucrats would always go to sleep with a mint on the pillow. In limited circumstances, employees can even qualify to stay in luxurious five-star hotels. When these expenses are combined with airfare, meals and pocket money given to federal employees, the total cost to taxpayers was $13.1 billion. …The problem is that the system does nothing to prevent taxpayers from being ripped off to bankroll trips that double as vacation junkets. The Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, frequently sent employees overseas on first- or business-class airplane tickets that cost taxpayers up to $10,000 each. …Likewise, agencies spend millions sending employees to private industry trade shows that just happen to be in resort locations such as Las Vegas. The Department of Commerce spent $7.5 million on conferences of this sort in 2007. …At the Environmental Protection Agency, apparently each bureaucrat can decide for himself. Earlier this month, EPA’s IG audited agency travel records and found that midlevel staffers approved one out of five trips even though they lacked explicit authority to do so. …When spending other people’s money, there is no incentive to verify that trips are legitimate or worthwhile. With taxpayers facing $12.7 trillion in rapidly growing debt, it’s time for bureaucrats to give up one of the most prized perks of so-called “public service.” Self-approved, first-class travel with five-star accommodations in exotic locations at public expense should never be allowed.