View Full Version : Junkets We Pay For

Alan D. Hyde
03-02-2006, 04:12 PM
Courtesy of www.townhall.com (http://www.townhall.com) ---

The government junkets you fund
Feb 8, 2006
by Michelle Malkin



That's how much of our hard-earned money has gone to subsidize the spring break-style trips and conferences of the federal government over the last five years. Spending on bureaucracy boondoggles has increased some 70 percent in that time period.

We wouldn't know anything about this binge if Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., hadn't asked. Last summer, the pork-busting chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security surveyed all federal departments and agencies and directed them to document their conference, meetings and travel expenses since 2000. At a hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Coburn unveiled his findings.

You'll be happy to know that the government junkets your tax dollars have funded include:

-- A Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) trip to the resort town of Los Cabos, Mexico, for a conference on American real estate and urban areas.

-- Another HUD outing to Honolulu -- for the Sacramento, Calif., Home Ownership Fair.

-- A Department of State expedition to Vienna, Austria, to partake in "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Train the Trainer" workshops.

-- A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jaunt by 236 employees to an AIDS conference in Barcelona, Spain. Price tag: $3.6 million.

-- A total of 59 HHS conferences around the world with delegations of more than 100 -- including over 1,000 attendees to sunny Orlando, Fla. Employed by HHS? You're going to Disney World!

It would be one thing if all this worldwide travel were actually related to the actual agency/department goals and duties of the federal employees packing their bags and riding off into the sunset. But in too many cases, there is little if any connection between the meetings and the mission.

Why are we paying for HUD employees to attend the New York State Governor's Dr. Martin Luther King Symposium? Or to a conference held by the radical, left-wing, open-borders advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza?

Did the Department of Justice really need to dispatch workers to the "Women Are Sacred" conference in sunny Phoenix?

Was it necessary to send a whopping 200 HHS employees to a Netherlands "International Symposium on Night and Shiftwork"? Wouldn't it have saved us all time and money if the HHS researchers traveled to a nearby 7-11 or nursing home instead?

The spendthrift HHS has been among the worst transgressors -- burning through more than $300 million on conferences between 2000-2005. Several of the department's publicly subsidized trips to AIDS conferences have featured free condom distribution to participants, sex- and drug-themed sessions, and in one case, giveaways of a map to area brothels.

Jet-setting bureaucrats do more than waste money on these working vacations. They are also undermining our nation's best interests. The State Department has sent its employees to confabs convened by a soft-on-terrorism outfit, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (whose executive director blamed Israel in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks), as well as to a counterterrorism conference in Saudi Arabia that deliberately excluded Israel and instead welcomed the Islamist Muslim World League -- considered by U.S. counterterrorism officials to be a financial supporter of al Qaeda.

Blowhards in both parties in Washington have pledged to reduce spending and reform business as usual. Yet, Sen. Coburn's attempt to limit conference spending by just one agency -- HUD -- was anonymously stripped from an appropriations bill behind closed doors and unceremoniously killed.

Who did it? Let's have some transparency. Step forward and tell us why.

You want reform? You want smaller government? There's $1,401,104,263 and counting just waiting to be targeted.

Go ahead and make our day: Cut it out!

Michelle Malkin is a syndicated columnist and maintains her weblog at michellemalkin.com. She has also authored books such as Unhinged and In Defense of Internment.



03-02-2006, 04:20 PM
Not even gonna bother reading the C&P...I am not surprised by the title of the tread...
It has been going on for years...
I mean someone has to go on fact finding missions...first class...good excuse for a vacation in the sun...
That's politics...

03-02-2006, 04:23 PM
Yup, let's focus on the $1.4 billion in government waste - and forget about the $47 billion in the FY '06 budget for earmarks. "Earmarks" - that's critter-speak for pork! ;)

Alan D. Hyde
03-02-2006, 04:32 PM
BOTH ought to be substantially curtailed...


03-02-2006, 04:35 PM
$1.4 billion over 5 years is $280 million/year. That's way deep in the noise compared to $47 billion IN ONE YEAR!!!

Whining about this smacks of a red herring to divert attention away from the REAL waste!

[ 03-02-2006, 04:35 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

03-02-2006, 04:41 PM
pork spending...both sides to blame...the smaller amounts sopent on pork projects..

It's such a small piece of the pie," about 0.7 percent of the total federal budget, charged John Scofield, a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

That doesn't matter to CAGW, who said members of Congress should set an example by tightening their belts in light of the economic downturn and the war against terrorism.

Pork — that is, excessive spending for members’ pet projects, which usually grease the skids for special interest and hometown support — increased 9 percent in fiscal year 2002 to $20 billion. The number of pork projects increased 32 percent to a total of 8,341.

For the second year in a row, Alaska led the nation in pork with $451 million in spending, followed by Hawaii with $353 million, and West Virginia with $215 million — all thanks to powerful members on the Senate Appropriations Committee, CAGW said.

CAGW categorizes more than 600 pet projects in the "2002 Pig Book" by committee and says every project meets one or more of the following criteria: they are unauthorized or unsupported by the president, proposed by only one member, and serve one special interest, are unhindered by any congressional hearing and are not competitively awarded.

Some of the latest "Pig Book" installments include:

— $62.4 million for commerce projects in Alaska, home of Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Republican Ted Stevens, including $750,000 to prevent Atlantic salmon from escaping state streams and $4 million for sea lion recovery projects.

— $23 million in agricultural projects for the state of Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., including $800,000 for imported red fireants.

— $268 million in defense projects in the state of Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, including $1 million for an alternative fuel program for the Hickman Air Force Base and $2 million for the state National Guard anti-drug program.

— $80 million for energy and water projects in the state of Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., including $7 million for a positron emission tomography facility at West Virginia University.

— $78.5 million in labor and health and human services projects in Iowa, home of Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, including $100,000 to encourage children to hold fairs displaying their inventions and $3 million for the Iowa Communications Network.

03-02-2006, 04:41 PM
Originally posted by Alan D. Hyde:

break-style trips and conferences of the federal government over the last five years. Spending on bureaucracy boondoggles has increased some 70 percent in that time period. Originally posted by Meerkat:

$47 billion in the FY '06 budget for earmarks. Recently George Will cited an 800% increase in earmarks in the last 5 years. Notice that increases in "earmarks" and junkets has increased substantially since the "small government" Republicans won both houses of Congress and the White House. But don't worry about all that cost. The tax cuts will pay for it...or better yet, our children will. What a clever trick to play on the little tykes!

George Roberts
03-02-2006, 06:01 PM
All professional groups hold these types of meetings in pleasant setting.

My wife and daughter often travel across the country to participate. A week long businees trip to Disney World is always nice. They have plans for Hawaii and Alaska.

The trips are tax deductable which means your tax dollars pay for my wife's and daughter's business trips. I always go. My expenses are also deductable.

Grow up. "Business" trips are enjoyed by all who get to take them.

03-02-2006, 09:08 PM
My dad always taught me that if you watch the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves. This is more than just a discussion about wasted tax payer dollars. It's really about the utter lack of ethics and integrity that runs rampant in our federal government. If this is going on with our dollars what is happening regarding the service that these agencies are supposed to be providing to us? Remember the real role of the gov't is to protect and serve us.