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May 13 2014

Proposed Law: Members of Congress Can't Fly First Class on the Taxpayer's Money

Charlotte Hays

Fox News is reporting that a bipartisan group of lawmakers is sponsoring a bill to prevent members of Congress from flying first class when using taxpayer money.

WHOA! You mean members of Congress have been flying first class at the expense of the taxpayer? Yep:

All [the bill] does is prohibit members of Congress from using taxpayer funds to purchase first class airfare," [Arizona Republican Rep. Paul] Gosar said in a statement. "At a time of massive deficits and with a national debt in excess of $17 trillion, members of Congress should not be using taxpayers' hard-earned money to buy luxury airline seats."

When you stop reeling from the news that you’ve been paying for first class airline tickets—tickets you would never buy for yourself—for strangers, you must admit that you’re not really that surprised. The political class routinely takes advantage of the taxpayer. It’s the done thing. It is indecent but there it is.

Just the other day we learned that the IRS has spent $100 million on furniture—that would be the same scandal-ridden IRS that targeted conservative groups that were applying for tax exempt status.  But maybe IRS employees are cushioned from the economic realities the rest of us face:

The Internal Revenue Service handed out $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary issues — including more than $1 million to employees who didn't pay their federal taxes, a watchdog report says.

We Washingtonians live in a town where we routinely see sleek black cars with a fleet of other cars in their train.

No, it’s not the president; it’s some dippy bureaucrat who gets the ultimate status symbol—a motorcade—at our expense.

I can hear you saying it: that these abuses add up to such a small amount that they are fiscally insignificant. I’m not so sure. If we cut down on the million dollar conference/party budgets for various agencies, the $16 muffins, and other vulgar perks, I bet we could save ourselves a pretty penny.

But there’s something else at play here: it’s just plain unseemly for members of Congress and bureaucrats to take advantage of us. This is not how the world’s oldest democracy is supposed to operate. Such actions are abuses of the public purse—and of the public.

Did you see the pictures of Prince William taking a commercial flight from Memphis recently? The heir to the throne flew coach on American Airlines. Prince William may have paid for the trip because it was a personal trip. Like our royals, he flies with security. And they all sat in economy class!  The prince's grandmother reportedly has asked her family to go easy on the U.K. taxpayer. 

Just for the record, I am not suggesting the president fly commercial. But other members of his family might consider this option, and all government employees should be as well-acquainted with the cramped seats in coach as I am.

I’m only sorry that the issue of members of Congress flying first class is being addressed through legislation. Decent men and women shouldn't need to be told that this is wrong.

Maybe we just aren't electing the right kinds of people, if they don't automatically know to do the decent thing?

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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