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Pelosi's Tin Ear: $550 Million Order Of New Jets For Congress Taking Flak

Earlier this year Congress was in high dudgeon about the use of corporate jets by bankers and auto industry executives that testified on Capitol Hill. Barney Frank led the Parade of Indignation:

If House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass) has his way, companies with corporate jets will not receive any future bailout money The restriction on corporate jets would apply as long as the company receives federal money under the bailout package.

Lawmakers scolded the heads of the Detroit automakers for traveling to Washington aboard their corporate jets as they sought billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance.

As the Wall Street Journal noted last November, this habit of Congress complaining about private sector perks smells of hypocrisy:

This is the age-old story of those in sin throwing the first stones. And they do so without shame because they assume we are so ignorant we will not see them as the hypocrites they are.

That comment was prophetic because last week, in the middle of a contentious health care debate and worst recession in since the Great Depression, Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered up $550 million dollars worth of new private jets for the Lords of Congress. However, some members of that august body of elites seem to be getting some religion real fast:

The whole thing kind of makes me sick to my stomach," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) in an interview Sunday. "It is evidence that some of the cynicism about Washington is well placed -- that people get out of touch and they spend money like it's Monopoly money."

Here's a thought. Why doesn't some enterprising polling organization poll this issue in front of the unemployment office in every major U S city? Or at the end of the security line in any major U S airport? Maybe at baggage claim? Any other suggested locations?


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Comments (52)

Didn't we just take over tw... (Below threshold)

Didn't we just take over two of those auto companies? So don't we already own a bunch of private jets?

How about in front of a hom... (Below threshold)
Pat Cole:

How about in front of a homeless shelter? Or, even in front of a UAW Local?

Well, if you are traveling ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Well, if you are traveling more......
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124650399438184235.html

Considering this and the behavior during the health care debate, the condescension and likely the distain with which the elected representatives hold the American public can be no more apparent.

The only reason Sen. Claire... (Below threshold)
MPR:

The only reason Sen. Claire McCaskill would make a statement like this is because she knows she and the liberal, and so-called "conservative democrat", congress are in deep s**t. I'm sure she got a phone call from Harry, Nancy or Rahm to keep her mouth shut. She has gone along with Obamalala and the far left up to this point so, que pasa Senator?

I couldn't find anything in... (Below threshold)
Victory is Ours:

I couldn't find anything in the links you provided that says Pelosi is behind this, Mr.S

Vic

VicHere's a clue. Sp... (Below threshold)
HughS:

Vic
Here's a clue. Speaker of the House Pelosi is behind everything that happens in the House of Representatives.

Of course was it just a cou... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

Of course was it just a couple of months ago that we were lectured about how cutting $100 million from the budget was so hard to do and that figure was a huge sum of money! The groups struggled to find money to cut, but were able to do so. Now we find out that this huge savings amount can be multiplied by 5 and spent on private jets!!

Wow! and they can bend the cost curve on healthcare too!

Government by Wesley Mouch ... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Government by Wesley Mouch and the looters...

The pigs are running the fa... (Below threshold)
davidt:

The pigs are running the farm.

This is the closest most of... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

This is the closest most of these losers can get to a G550. Get elected and order one up for yourself, using other people's money.

Can you imagine what Mr. Pe... (Below threshold)
Madalyn:

Can you imagine what Mr. Pelosi goes thru every day? Fancy Nancy is behind every crooked deal going down on the hill. Don't kid yourselves. Fancy wants a private jet cause she doesn't like flying commercial. Did you see her during BHO's first speech? She was up and down and up and down so much for a minute there I thought she was sitting on Clinton's lap. SHAME ON ME!!
Can't help what I think.....guess Capital Hill folks can't help what they do. Stupidity and arrogance running amok. Bunch of crooks.

Hey guys, take it easy on V... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Hey guys, take it easy on Vic. At least the comic comments provide for a humorous moment now and then.

Don't forget, Nancy is fighting the "culture of (Republican) corruption" in Congress. Hahahahaha!

"I couldn't find anything i... (Below threshold)
Ran:

"I couldn't find anything in the links you provided that says Pelosi is behind this, Mr.S"

Vic

Vic... did you find ANYTHING that says she ISN'T?

The way these parasites act... (Below threshold)
Paul_In_Houston:

The way these parasites act bring to mind some of the old "The peasants are revolting!" jokes, with laughter muted by the fact that the word "peasants" EXACTLY conveys their attitude towards us.

-

Paul_In_Houston -W... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Paul_In_Houston -

We elected public servants - but they see themselves as the aristocracy. And why shouldn't they? We've basically given them all the privelege they could want, (except for Pelosi's private Air Force One desire) with authority to make decisions on a nationwide scale with little to no responsibility for the results of those decisions.

And it really didn't matter THAT much until we got the Boy King Obama. We had people who were at least somewhat responsible with the powers entrusted to them, and at least made a pretense of listening.

Now we're being told to STFU and sit down - with union goons enforcing it. They're spending OUR money like they can't tell the difference between a million and a trillion, giving a pass to behavior that they'd have been screaming about if political parties were reversed, and generally acting like there's never going to be any accountability for what they're doing.

Interesting times indeed...

I really, really hate the c... (Below threshold)
James H:

I really, really hate the corporate jet argument. It really is a bunch of populist nonsense. I can think of a number of legitimate reasons for the executives of a multinational corporation with customers and suppliers across three continents need a private jet available to them. I can also see reasons for members of Congress to collectively have access to small planes for official travel.

What good does it do to com... (Below threshold)
G.:

What good does it do to complain? The same liberal idiots who vote for Pelosi and the Democrats will stupidly vote them back in office next time and the democrats know it. So they don't care what the rest of us say.

"I can also see reasons for... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"I can also see reasons for members of Congress to collectively have access to small planes for official travel."

Commercial airlines aren't good enough for travel within the US? Here's another thought, how about THEY FLY IN THE BACK WITH THE "COMMONERS"?

"I can also see reasons ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"I can also see reasons for members of Congress to collectively have access to small planes for official travel."

How so, James H? Seems to me like every capitol of every state in the union is served multiple times daily by commercial air, and there's very few circumstances I can think of that would require a Senator or Representative to operate on such a short time frame that Delta couldn't get them there and back in a timely fashion.

Then again, they might not want to catch 'Commoner Cooties'.

So what makes these politic... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

So what makes these politicians think they have such privlages after all were not living in a monacry

"Vic""He... (Below threshold)
Victory is Ours:

"Vic"

"Here's a clue. Speaker of the House Pelosi is behind everything that happens in the House of Representatives."

So you can't find any direct link to Pelosi either?

If that's the case how can you make a statement like this?

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered up $550 million dollars worth of new private jets for the Lords of Congress. "

That's pretty specific - saying she "ordered up" the jets - but you don't actually know that? Even though you stated it as a fact you don't know who ordered up the jets? Seriously?

Are your hats made of tin foil or aluminum foil? And does every post you write carry little lies like this one?

Or -- do you really believe that "Pelosi is behind everything" - which would make you one of the first documented cases of Pelosi Derangement Syndrome?

Vic

JamesH,I can also se... (Below threshold)
JamesH:

JamesH,
I can also see the need for aircraft being made available for congressional travel. But, the military made it's request for a certain number because it handles those arrangements and maintains the fleet. For some reason Congress has asked for more aircraft. This moves funds from other programs in the military to this fleet. I also believe that members of Congress do too much traveling anyway. I would be fascinated to know how many of their policy positions on certain issues have been changed because of a trip. Global warming as an example. I would assume most of these people head somewhere already knowing how they are going to vote on issues like global warming. Or they go somewhere that validates their position. They should stay home and read the bills they write. When their homework is done, then they can go out and play.

Question: Does the Secret S... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Question: Does the Secret Service allow those members of Congress, who are under their protection, to fly commercial airlines?

"Or -- do you really believ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Or -- do you really believe that "Pelosi is behind everything"

Hey Vic, did you sleep thru Civics class or are you just stupid? NOTHING gets voted on the House floor until it clears the Speaker. It's called "scheduling".

Rance -Looks like ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Rance -

Looks like the Secret Service is only charged with protecting the President, the VP, and the next in line of succession, and the families involved.

Below that rarefied aristocracy, they're on their own. No extra protection, even if they're flying commercial and at risk of catching commoner cooties.

Whoever you are most recent... (Below threshold)
James H:

Whoever you are most recent poster, you are not me. In reply to you, I do indeed know of the aircraft the US military makes available for congressional travel. I commented more generally on the issue of congressional use of such aircraft, rather than on the specific issue of the most recent appropriation. I do find that appropriation questionable, but for reasons other than populist outrage.

As to other respondents:

Commercial airlines aren't good enough for travel within the US? Here's another thought, how about THEY FLY IN THE BACK WITH THE "COMMONERS"?
How so, James H? Seems to me like every capitol of every state in the union is served multiple times daily by commercial air, and there's very few circumstances I can think of that would require a Senator or Representative to operate on such a short time frame that Delta couldn't get them there and back in a timely fashion.

A few points worth considering:

First, recall that not all congressional air travel is within the United States. Members of Congress also travel outside the United States as members of delegations to international conferences, or to be guests of foreign corporations or foreign governments. If these members of Congress are traveling as part of a delegation, it may make sense for them to travel on government aircraft rather than on commercial airlines.

Second, recall that two members of Congress are in the direct line of succession to the presidency. If both the president and the vice president are incapacitated, the Speaker of the House must immediately assume the presidency. If the president and vice president are incapacitated during a national emergency, it is imperative that the Speaker assume that office immediately. One could say that the plane containing the Speaker could be immediately diverted, ordered to land, then government personnel could join with the Speaker. However, as a citizen, I would prefer that the Speaker be able to assume the presidency immediately, and be able to make decisions in a secure environment immediately, rather than wait for a commercial aircraft to land.

Third, within the United States, I believe it entirely appopriate for members of Congress to be able to use government jets for official travel if they can show that their travel, particularly together, is less expensive than alternative transportation using commercial air and other means.

As far as members' personal and campaign travel, they're on their own.

The facts have never stood ... (Below threshold)
Still An Unrepentant Democrat:

The facts have never stood in the way of a good old fashion case of diarrhea of the brain/mouth ( in this case pen) in the land of wingnutia.

JLawson,"Looks like ... (Below threshold)
Rance:

JLawson,
"Looks like the Secret Service is only charged with protecting the President, the VP, and the next in line of succession, and the families involved."

Yes. And Nancy Pelosi, the subject of this posting, was in the line of succession, last I looked.

So, is she allowed to take commercial transportaion, or not?

Unrepentant:"The f... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

Unrepentant:

"The facts have never stood in the way of a good old fashion case of diarrhea of the brain/mouth ( in this case pen) in the land of wingnutia."

As you prove to us on a daily basis. May I suggest a change of diet to help with your diarrhea?

I don't see anything wrong ... (Below threshold)
gordon koncal:

I don't see anything wrong with trading in the "clunker" jets now being used for new ones. Of course SEN Pelosi needs to assure the American taxpayers that she will get $4500. for each gas guzzeling trade-in

Rance -See what Ja... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Rance -

See what James H posted.

But based on what he posted - yes, she could fly commercial inside the US. Likely she won't - but it'll cost one hell of a lot more to fly military than it would for her to pay for a pair of first-class, full-fare round-trip seats for herself and a Secret Service bodyguard. Military-run flights in a C-37A would probably cost about $1500/hour wet, not including crew costs.

But nothing's too good for her, is it?

As far as the need for continual preparations for 'immediate' assumption of the Presidency goes - if they're so concerned about the possibility of her imminent ascension to the Presidency, perhaps they shouldn't let her leave Washington.

Scary thought, isn't it? Pelosi, as President... (shudder)

James H -Good info... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

James H -

Good info - thank you for posting it.

Rance,I'll grant you... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Rance,
I'll grant you, that with her approval rating, if I were here I wouldn't want to fly with the hoi polloi even with 2-4 armed Secret Service agents.
Given this notion, however, as the only member of congress to get a protective detail by virtue of office, HOW MANY BLOODY PLANES DOES SHE NEED?
Pres. Obama only gets 2...

To reflect a bit more on do... (Below threshold)
James H:

To reflect a bit more on domestic travel. I'm thinking in particular about members of Congress who travel within the scope of their duties, particularly when they travel as groups. Keep in mind I have no idea how such things are handled now, but here's my general hypo:

Let's say that BigCo is building airplane propellors under a contract with the US Army. The contract is up for renewal soon, and as part of its publicity blitz, BigCo invites members of the House Armed Services Committee to visit its propellor plant.

Inspecting a propellor plant, IMO, is entirely within the scope of duties for a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Heck, they should even bring along a few committee staff members to look at the plant, too.

Now, let's say that six members of Congress, plus four committee staffers, go to visit the plant. Just for yucks, let's say the plant is 150 miles from the nearest major urban airport, but there is a small airfield near the plant used for pickups and deliveries.

Because of plant location, it could be expensive for the 10-member delegation to fly to the airport, then obtain transportation of some sort from the airport to the plant 150 miles or so away. Even if you stuff everybody into rented Yugos, the bill will add up.

So, the defense contractor offers to pick the members of Congress and their staffs up in Washington on its private jet, then whisk them out to the plant.

See the ethical issue there?

In a situation where it would cost more to send the members of Congress out by commercial transportation, I have no problem as a voter if they use government airplanes instead. Especially if they are going to actually work while they are en route.

vic - "Or -- do you rea... (Below threshold)
Marc:

vic - "Or -- do you really believe that "Pelosi is behind everything" - which would make you one of the first documented cases of Pelosi Derangement Syndrome?"

There is another possibility, that pelosi is so G-Damn dumb that she has zero knowledge of what goes on in the House even though she's the Speaker of said House.

So which is it nitwit, she';s clueless and dumb, or she's being set-up to take the fall by those that suffer from this alleged Pelosi Derangement Syndrome?

Garandfan: "Hey Vic, did... (Below threshold)
Victory is Ours:

Garandfan: "Hey Vic, did you sleep thru Civics class or are you just stupid? NOTHING gets voted on the House floor until it clears the Speaker. It's called "scheduling"."

So if Rep Boehner gets a bill to the house floor for a vote it becomes "Pelosi's orders"?

Are you for real?

Let me guess. I guess that the HughS used to be a commenter and Garandfan is a big fan of his.

Inbreeding yields pretty bizarre results.

So you yokels don't have any idea who's behind this measure to purchase jets, but since Pelosi has been complaining about the right wing lies being "un-American" you decide to smear her with a lie of your own?

I agree with Pelosi- you guys are un-American if that's what you're up to. But maybe you're just stupid. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Vic

Spending 550 million on new... (Below threshold)
Dennis D:

Spending 550 million on new luxury jets during this recession and time of economic pain for many Americans? Now THATS UnAmerican.

The problem with extremists... (Below threshold)
Dennis D:

The problem with extremists from both sides. Right Wing Extremists are in some forest somewhere whining about black people and Jews. Left Wing Extremists are INSIDE the WHITE HOUSE and in Charge of Senate and the House. Who is more dangerous?

James H:Especia... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

James H:

Especially if they are going to actually work while they are en route."

Well, there's the sore spot. How many of them would inflate their entourages to make sure that ONLY a military flight would do the job?

I'm thinking if they really want to do entourage travel, they need something designed for troop hauling.

The C-130J would do that - and they could even install a comfort pallet for an airborne latrine. Sure, the seats are a bit spartan - but if it's good enough for the troops, it's good enough for an entourage!

And it's a bit loud - but that's what earplugs are for, right?

And it's not terribly fast by jet standards (though pretty darn speedy for a turboprop) - but it makes up for it by being able to land on pretty much any 3000 ft long airstrip in the district. And just think of the time they'd have to work in-flight!

One trip on the Congress Express, and they'd likely be pleading to fly commercial COACH the next time.

I really, really hate th... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I really, really hate the corporate jet argument. It really is a bunch of populist nonsense. I can think of a number of legitimate reasons for the executives of a multinational corporation with customers and suppliers across three continents need a private jet available to them. I can also see reasons for members of Congress to collectively have access to small planes for official travel.

Well, sure, can't impress the lobbyists on those Cancun junkets in a Dash-8, can ya?

I bet it would be cheaper to simply CHARTER a small-jet flight, if they so desperately need it.

Or, you know, fly business class, like most executives do.

Second, recall that two ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Second, recall that two members of Congress are in the direct line of succession to the presidency. If both the president and the vice president are incapacitated, the Speaker of the House must immediately assume the presidency. If the president and vice president are incapacitated during a national emergency, it is imperative that the Speaker assume that office immediately.

So what? I'm sure the Secret Service/FAA could order the commercial plane carrying the Speaker to the nearest airport, and the USSS can send one of the several 747s or Gulfstreams to pick them up. I don't recall Tip O'Neil having his own plane when Reagan was shot and Bush was out of the country at the time.

However, as a citizen, I would prefer that the Speaker be able to assume the presidency immediately, and be able to make decisions in a secure environment immediately, rather than wait for a commercial aircraft to land.

Nonsense, if a snap decision (and only impending Nuclear War would be qualify) is needed, the captain calls the Secretary to the secured cockpit, and she can relay instruction via her secure cellphone (which she probably carries), or through normal radio frequencies.

The US does have (and practices) Contingency plans for this sort of thing.

Finally, if she is unavailable after all that, then the succession passes down the line until SOH CAN assume control.

There is no justification for the cost of a private plane for the Speaker, otherwise you might has well go down the line of succession and assign all 28 persons (or so) a plane.

Yes. And Nancy Pelosi, t... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Yes. And Nancy Pelosi, the subject of this posting, was in the line of succession, last I looked.

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/ref/blssprotect.htm

Short answer: No, she gets no special protection unless POTUS is incapacitated.

So, is she allowed to ta... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

So, is she allowed to take commercial transportaion, or not?

Yes.

So if Rep Boehner gets a... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

So if Rep Boehner gets a bill to the house floor for a vote it becomes "Pelosi's orders"?

Are you for real?

Look, as Speaker of the House, and head honcho for the Democrats, she can get the bill quashed or use her bully pulpit to prevent even from seeing the light of day.

And considering the brouhaha the last time "Pelosi" and "planes" were in the same sentence, you'd think she'd be the first one to stop this bill.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/10/study-pelosi-repeated-requests-military-aircraft/

Let me guess. I guess th... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Let me guess. I guess that the HughS used to be a commenter and Garandfan is a big fan of his.

Inbreeding yields pretty bizarre results.

If you want to be taken seriously, knock off your ad hominem. Otherwise, be prepared to be continuously mocked(by some) and ignored(by the rest).

I agree with Pelosi- you... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I agree with Pelosi- you guys are un-American if that's what you're up to. But maybe you're just stupid. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

You know what, on second thoughts, I withdrawl my suggestion.

Fuck you.

The problem with extremi... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

The problem with extremists from both sides. Right Wing Extremists are in some forest somewhere whining about black people and Jews. Left Wing Extremists are INSIDE the WHITE HOUSE and in Charge of Senate and the House. Who is more dangerous?

The uninformed, complacent voter in between.

"Are you for real?"</... (Below threshold)
Paul_In_Houston:

"Are you for real?"

44. Posted by James Cloninger | August 10, 2009 11:57 PM.

Thank you, Mr. Cloninger.
A question often occurring when reading blog comments.

;-)

Cloninger:I am not... (Below threshold)
James H:

Cloninger:

I am not in favor of the Speaker of the House having a private jet for her own personal use. But access to a pool of jets for long-haul trips? That I can live with.

"Are you for real?"<... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

"Are you for real?"

44. Posted by James Cloninger | August 10, 2009 11:57 PM.

Thank you, Mr. Cloninger.
A question often occurring when reading blog comments

Actually, the italics should have included the "Are you for real"...those aren't my words, but alas, also my sentiments towards the quoted.

I am not in favor of the... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I am not in favor of the Speaker of the House having a private jet for her own personal use. But access to a pool of jets for long-haul trips? That I can live with.

What sort of long-haul trips are required by the Speaker of the House? DC-San Fran is a 4 hour trip on commercial flights, not a trans-pacific steamboat voyage. The other representatives of California generally fly normal flights, why can't she?

Why do Republican blogs lik... (Below threshold)
Georgeie Bushie:

Why do Republican blogs like so much?
This story is just another big GOP propaganda lie




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