Air Trump: The swamp dwellers fly high | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 29, 2017

Air Trump: The swamp dwellers fly high

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 7:02 AM

click to enlarge AIR TRUMP: His cabinet demonstrates a liking for private travel at taxpayers' expense.
  • AIR TRUMP: His cabinet demonstrates a liking for private travel at taxpayers' expense.

The rarified tastes of Trump cabinet members for private air travel continue to draw attention worth summarizing this morning as the president touts a tax plan that benefits the wealthy and which his own spokesman says he can't guarantee won't raise middle-class taxes.

* HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY TOM PRICE: An avowed foe of government waste as a congressman, has run up hundreds of thousands of costs in flying charter and military jets to far-flung outposts, sometimes to have lunch with family, and with wife in tow. He's now apologized and agreed to repay about $50,000 — a fraction of government expense and equivalent to, he says, business class tickets not the private air he seemed to enjoy so much. PS: The tab is up to a million now.

* EPA LEADER SCOTT PRUITT: In between devastating regulation of polluters, the former Oklahoma attorney general, too, has demonstrated a fondness for the air travel of the rich. He's run up some $58,000 in private air travel. The article also notes he takes first or business class whenever possible "for security reasons." Another reminder is in order that this environment-destroying plutocrat was recommended as a great pick not only by, as you'd expect, Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, also a dedicated foe of environmental regulation, but by her predecessor, Democrat Dustin McDaniel. You have some explaining to do D-Mac.

* INTERIOR SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE: In between despoiling national treasures (national parkland that he'd like to see drilled and mined), he's also enjoyed private flying to both the Virgin Islands and a $12,000 flight home to Montana (on an OIL EXECUTIVE'S PRIVATE PLANE.)

And in other fill-the-swamp news:

* SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH: In between delivering a far-right political agenda to match Clarence Thomas, he's also raised a few questions about whether he has a tin ear on ethics issues, such as by trotting around Kentucky to the political benefit of traveling companion Sen. Mitch McConnell. Also yesterday: The Supreme Court decided to take up a case over mandatory union fees for government workers. This means four justices are poised to deal a punishing blow to government unions. Same day, Gorsuch caught flak for speaking at the Trump Hotel (where else?) to a conservative interest group, one of several on his coming agenda. It's legal, but as an ethicist said — just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should. He talked Thursday about "civility."

There's undoubtedly much more, though more attention probably should be played to Puerto Rico. Heckuva job, Donald. Matt Yglesias has observed on Twitter that an administration that can't get sufficient diesel fuel shipped to a nearby island probably shouldn't be posturing about warring with Iran.

PS: And I never got around to Mnuchin, whose high-class flights include a jaunt with his wife to get a privileged view of a solar eclipse.

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