Trump struck back and Nancy Pelosi in what was probably the first time she has been denied anything in the last few decades. Her scheduled trip abroad was abruptly cancelled by Trump due to the government shutdown.
Of course, the media jumped at the chance to attack Trump over what they called a “juvenile” and petty tactic. But once again they failed to see what Trump was really doing.
Trump was calling attention to two things. The first being that Nancy Pelosi was planning on leaving the country instead of negotiating to bring an end to the shutdown at home. And second, and what I want to touch on further, is the rampant use of taxpayer money by elected officials to take vacations around the world under the guise of “official” work.
According to a USA Today report, foreign trips funded by taxpayer money increased by 27% from 2015 to 2016. It was also the most expensive year on budget for such trips totaling nearly $20 million.
And these estimates are actually low because they only account for trips where the government paid for commercial airfare. Air travel provided by the military, which is often the case, are not included in these totals. But those trips still have hotel, security, and other travel costs.
Also, these trips require no approval from Congress itself. The trip is made and the bill is sent to the the treasury which pays it directly.
The truth is, many of these trips are not really for official business. Congressmen from the U.S. are treated well when traveling overseas. They are treated as guests and dignitaries. Often receiving police escorts and other perks.
Another thing that leads to abuse is that these trips are not required to have an itemized list of expenditures, only a total for the trip. So there is no way to tell how lavishly these elected officials lived while on their taxpayer funded vacation.
In the case of Pelosi’s trip that was cancelled by Trump, there were scheduled stop overs in Brussels and Egypt. It’s very likely these were basically vacation stops. Pelosi tried to explain the stop in Brussels as needed for “pilot rest” which sound dubious and most likely was a preemptive move on her part to head off questions about the trip now that it was widely publicized.
All of this is coming on the heels of a trip earlier this month by Democrats to Puerto Rico where many Democrats were photographed lounging pool-side and attending a special presentation of the musical Hamilton.
It’s pretty obvious that the system is being abused. There is very little reason for a member of Congress to be traveling that much when they are elected to represent a local district in their home state.
So thanks to Trump, hopefully a spotlight will be put on this often times wasteful practice.
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