Austerity begins at home

By Megan McArdle

It does seem to me that if Congress is worried about executives spending outrageous sums of taxpayer cash on luxury jaunts . . . they might stop spending outrageous sums of taxpayer cash on luxury jaunts:



The House Democratic Caucus spent more than $500,000 in taxpayer money over the past five years for its annual retreats at resorts in Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

On Thursday, Democrats will head to the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in historic Williamsburg, Va., for the three-day planning powwow. The resort boasts multiple championship golf courses, a full-service spa and six restaurants. 

ndividual lawmakers pay for most of the expenses related to retreat lodging through their campaign committees, but the Democratic Caucus subsidizes some of the costs for what aides consider "official business" -- to the tune of nearly $100,000 each year, according to a Democratic aide involved in retreat planning.
 

For instance, the caucus picks up the hefty transportation tab, as well as the thousands of dollars in expenses each year for guest speakers, food and entertainment, according to financial disbursement records. 

Democratic leadership sources were reluctant to talk about any aspect of the trip, but they defended it as an important planning session for the entire country. 

Unlike, say, a sales meeting for your top-selling independent insurance brokers, which has absolutely nothing to do with whether AIG moves back to profitability, or becomes a permanent arm of the US government.

You know, we gave them a whole building and everything just so they could have a place to plan for the entire country.  We also provide them with offices filled with staff people dedicated to planning important things for the entire country.  If that's not enough, I suggest they pass the hat and rent a VFW hall somewhere like most of their constituents have to . . . or figure out a way to pay for it without tapping government funds.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/02/austerity-begins-at-home/362/