To hear the president explain it, the nation’s debt could be wiped out entirely if only the “well-to-do” (the latest iteration of what the White House used to called “rich fat cats”) paid their “fair share.” Never mind that in January — using the exact same complaint — he bullied Congress into authorizing a tax hike on American couples earning $400 thousand or more. Never mind either that if the government confiscated every penny currently controlled by the nation’s 425 billionaires, the aggregate “taxes” would keep the government functional at its current rate of spending for 108 days.
The fact remains that in Obama’s world, the rich enjoy all manner of perks while the rest of us, the “middle class,” stand out in the cold, peering in enviously with hungry eyes.
He may have a point. Who wouldn’t enjoy a trip at the company’s expense to the wine-growing region of California for tasting receptions and to enjoy “the regional bounty from local farms, chefs, wineries, breweries, bakeries and other food purveyors”?
So which Fortune 100 company is treating its pampered higher-ups in this regal fashion? None, actually. The description comes from a letter by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is sponsoring such a junket for selected USDA employees (h/t GOPUSA). The occasion is the 26th annual California Small Farm Conference, and God forbid Vilsack and company should be forced to read a stuffy report rather than pay the farmers a visit.
Coburn has long been a champion of cutting back on government waste. And Vilsack has been a champion equally long at creating it. Last year his agency spent $340 million on events where federal employees were able to kick back, enjoy a little R & R, and endure the occasional speaker.
By the way, Vilsack was one of the Obama cabinet members who recently spoke about a sequestration-imposed need to furlough employees of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). It would never occur to the secretary that maybe these workers could continue to provide their vital service to the nation if he and his cronies stayed in Washington and met with people “in the field” via videoconference.
Or to Obama. He decries the big bonuses taken by top executives in the private sector unless those executives come to work for him, in which case there are no questions asked. For example, the president had “no comment” on the $950,000 bonus his new Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, bagged in 2009 as an employee of Citigroup.
The president has two standards: One for judging the “well-to-do” when they work in the private sector and another for judging them when they work for him.
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